On World Humanitarian Day, UNRWA honours courageous staff members in Gaza

19 August 2014
On World Humanitarian Day, UNRWA Honours Courageous Staff Members in Gaza

 

Over 12,000 UNRWA staff serve 1.2 million refugees in the Gaza Strip. This World Humanitarian Day falls at a particularly fitting time to honour their unwavering courage in the face of a devastating military offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Since the declaration of an emergency on 7 July, UNRWA has lost eleven colleagues in Gaza. Some of them were killed in the line of duty; others were killed going about their daily lives, a sobering reminder that UNRWA staff in Gaza face the same dangers and losses as the people they are serving.

Like all Palestinians in Gaza, UNRWA staff have lost family and loved ones, had their homes destroyed and their lives devastated. One UNRWA staffmember in Rafah lost his two children, twelve and five years old, shortly after a previous temporary ceasefire expired. The family was displaced, but the children insisted on returning home to feed their doves and were killed in an air strike. Despite all the personal losses and with the temporary ceasefire holding, UNRWA staff continue to work round the clock to support ongoing emergency operations.

One designated emergency shelter manager in Jabalia gave a glimpse into the lives of staff members in Gaza, saying, “On a daily basis, we leave our own families behind to serve those seeking protection in our school.”  Putting themselves in harm’s way to continue providing emergency and regular services such as health care, sanitation services, food distribution and psychosocial support, our staff in Gaza have our deepest gratitude and respect.