PRC: Suspension of UNRWA Funding by Western Countries Collective Punishment against Palestinian Refugees

PRC: Suspension of UNRWA Funding by Western Countries Collective Punishment against Palestinian Refugees

London 28-1-2024

PRC is deeply alarmed by the decision by nearly a dozen Western countries to pause funding to the United Nations Relief and Works agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

At least 10 Western countries have announced their decision to withdraw or temporarily pause funding to the agency, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The decision comes while UNRWA said an investigation is under way into a small number of Agency staff members accused of taking part in Hamas’s 7 October attacks which triggered the conflict.

PRC beliefs funding suspension at this critical time in UNRWA’s history is shocking and poses serious threats to the survival and well-being of nearly 7 million registered Palestinian refugees.

As UNRWA chief, Philippe Lazzarini, already warned, the suspension of funds threatens humanitarian work in the region, especially in Gaza, where the death toll from Israel's ongoing attacks on the besieged enclave since Oct. 7 has surpassed 26,300, with more than 64,800 others injured and nearly 1.9 million people displaced.

The decision to freeze funding leaves the Palestinian people in displacement camps in Gaza and UNRWA’s other fields of operations at the serious risk of mass starvation.

Such a decision is also manifest of an implicit and explicit act of complicity in Israeli genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people at a time when more than half a million people — a quarter of the enclave's blockaded and bombarded population — face catastrophic hunger and starvation. UN data indicates that 570,000 Gazans are classified as having food insecurity equivalent to famine levels of starvation, as defined by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

At the same time, Palestinian refugees in displacement camps across Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria continue to grapple with dire humanitarian conditions, with many risking their lives onboard Europe-bound “death-boats” seeking safer shelters and better livelihoods.

In light of such a catastrophic humanitarian situation endured by Palestinian refugees in and outside of Gaza, suspension of funding to the only agency that provides humanitarian assistance to such vulnerable communities amounts to an act of collective punishment and involvement in the crime of genocide and ethnic cleansing committed by the Israeli military.

More than 142 UNRWA employees have been killed in Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7; Yet, none of these countries has acted in response to such crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces, in yet another sign of double standards.

These countries should rather stand on the right side of history and prevent irredeemable damage to the rights of Palestinians, especially after the International Court of Justice ordered that Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. 

PRC calls on the aforementioned countries to reconsider their unfair and inhumane decision and to rather increase their contributions to enable the agency to provide life-saving services to over 2 million people in Gaza and more than four million people elsewhere who depend on it for their sheer survival.

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