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UNRWA funding halt is an ‘additional collective punishment’ for Palestinians in Gaza

More than ten Western countries have suspended funding to the UNRWA, pushing Gaza into further human catastrophe.

UNRWA funding halt is an ‘additional collective punishment’ for Palestinians in Gaza
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

In Gaza, the people are at risk from famine and disease, with the medical system in collapse. Schools have become shelters, and much of the population lives in tents.

For many, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which runs schools, primary healthcare clinics, and other social services,  provides crucial day-to-day assistance for 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who are living through a dire humanitarian catastrophe. The agency was critically important even before the latest Israel-Hamas war began.

Now, as many nations, including major donors—Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the US, Australia, Canada, and Finland – have suspended funding for the UNRWA following accusations that some 190 UNRWA employees, including teachers, have doubled as Hamas or Islamic Jihad fighters, many Palestinians feel halting funding will lead to total disaster.

Founded in 1948, the UNRWA has been vital for the country, employing about 13,000 people in Gaza, part of a workforce of about 30,000 working with Palestinian refugees around the Middle East region. 

According to the Reuters news agency, a UNRWA spokesperson said the agency could not continue such operations after February if funding from countries were not resumed. 

“I urge countries who have suspended their funding to reconsider their decisions before UNRWA is forced to suspend its humanitarian response,” warned Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of UNRWA. 

“The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability,” he added. The official has condemned the move from the countries as “additional collective punishment.” 

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