The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London is deeply worried by UNRWA’s decision to evacuate its premises in northern Gaza, where thousands of families, among them children, have stayed and refused to yield in to Israeli evacuation threats. Many of these families have no other place to hide in.
UNRWA should have rather left no stone unturned to safeguard vulnerable Palestinian families in northern Gaza who could not evacuate their houses. Scores of civilians have died under Israeli shelling while many of those who survived these strikes, and risk to lose their lives at any moment, have been left with neither food nor medicines.
Rather than moving southwards, UNRWA should have increased its efforts to keep its shelters operational and ensure protection and safety for people sheltered therein, in these extremely unprecedented and tough times.
We join the calls made recently urging the Agency’s Protection Department, Security and Risk Management Department, and Planning Department to rather continue their relief operations at UNRWA premises and declare them safe shelters.
UNRWA’s former Commissioner-General showed up on several occasions in the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza to identify civilians’ needs and work on providing psychological support to vulnerable families. A visit by UNRWA’s incumbent Commissioner-Genneral, Philippe Lazzarini, to the besieged enclave has become more urgent than ever as hundreds of families who have been left without roofs over their heads and risk to die at any moment due to Israel’s unabated bombardment.
As Israel’s horrendous genocides continue to go unabated, the latest of which occurred at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, UNRWA should take serious and immediate action to assist victims’ families, provide medicines and food, and continuously work on ensuring the opening of humanitarian corridors from Egypt to Gaza to allow patients in critical condition to be medically evacuated for urgent care.
UNRWA’s role is pivotal to prevent a more tragic humanitarian catastrophe and further loss of innocent lives in Gaza, where we have witnessed unfathomable death and destruction. The death toll has hit over 3,500 while the number of injured is more than 13,000. Hundreds are still missing under rubble, including children and elderly.
The humanitarian situation has taken a serious turn for the worse. Water, food, fuel, and medical supplies are running out due to the Israeli siege. People, particularly young children, will soon start dying of severe dehydration.
It is high time UNRWA acted quickly. Entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed and turned into complete rubble. Palestinians in search of safety have nowhere to go. Many of those who relocated from northern Gaza to the south after the relocation order by the Israeli army were bombed as they attempted to flee or once they arrived in southern Gaza.
We appeal to the UN Agency to live up to its humanitarian mandate and to immediately work on ensuring protection of civilians and rehabilitation of its relief facilities across the Gaza Strip before it is too late.