Joint Statement by 28 NGOs: UNRWA Cuts Threaten Palestinian Lives in Gaza and Region

31 January 2024

As aid organizations, we are deeply concerned and outraged that some of the largest donors have united to suspend funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the main aid provider for millions of Palestinians in Gaza and the region. This comes amid a rapidly worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

The suspension of funding by donor states will impact life-saving assistance for over two million civilians, over half of whom are children, who rely on UNRWA aid in Gaza. The population faces starvation, looming famine and an outbreak of disease under Israel’s continued indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate deprivation of aid in Gaza.

We welcome UNRWA’s swift investigation into the alleged involvement of a small number of UN staff members in the October 7th attacks. We are shocked by the reckless decision to cut a lifeline for an entire population by some of the very countries that had called for aid in Gaza to be stepped up and for humanitarians to be protected while doing their job. This decision comes as the International Court of Justice ordered immediate and effective action to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.

152 UNRWA staff have already been killed and 145 UNRWA facilities damaged by bombardment. UNRWA is the largest humanitarian agency in Gaza and their delivery of humanitarian assistance cannot be replaced by other agencies working in Gaza. If the funding suspensions are not reversed we may see a complete collapse of the already restricted humanitarian response in Gaza.

With approximately over one million displaced Palestinians taking shelter in or around 154 UNRWA shelters, the agency and aid organisations have continued to work in near impossible circumstances to provide food, vaccinations, and freshwater. The countries suspending funds risk further depriving Palestinians in the region of essential food, water, medical assistance and supplies, education and protection.

We urge donor states to reaffirm support for the vital work that UNRWA and its partners do to help Palestinians survive one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our times. Countries must reverse these funding suspensions, uphold their duties towards the Palestinian people and scale up humanitarian assistance for civilians in dire need in Gaza and the region.

 

Signed

 

ActionAid

American Friends Service Committee

The Association of International Development Agencies - Aida

Caritas Internationalis

CCFD-Terre Solidaire

DanChurchAid

Danish Refugee Council

Diakonia

Humanity & Inclusion/ Handicap International (HI)

International Council for Voluntary Agencies

INTERSOS

Johanniter International Assistance

Médecins du Monde France, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Germany

Norwegian Church Aid

Norwegian People's Aid

Norwegian Refugee Council

Oxfam

Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine

Première Urgence Internationale

Save the Children

War Child Alliance

 

Originally posted here: https://www.nrc.no/news/2024/january/unrwa-funding-cuts-threaten-palestinian-lives-in-gaza-and-region-say-ngos/

Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

Your support is crucial to help us provide emergency aid 
to displaced families in Gaza

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