UNRWA’s lifesaving aid may end due to funding suspension

27 January 2024

Over 2 million people in Gaza depend on UNRWA for survival as war and displacement continue  


From Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner General  


AMMAN, 27 January 2024- “Nine countries have as of today temporarily suspended their funding to UNRWA. These decisions threaten our ongoing humanitarian work across the region including and especially in the Gaza Strip.   

“It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the Agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation. The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the highest investigative authority in the UN system, has already been seized of this very serious matter.   

“UNRWA is the primary humanitarian agency in Gaza, with over 2 million people depending on it for their sheer survival.   Many are hungry as the clock is ticking towards a looming famine. The Agency runs shelters for over 1 million people and provides food and primary healthcare even at the height of the hostilities.  

“In its ruling yesterday, 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”. These measures are aimed at preventing irreparable damage to the rights of Palestinians. 

“The only way that this can be done is through cooperation with international partners, especially UNRWA as the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza. Some 3,000 core staff out of 13,000 in Gaza continue to report to work, giving their communities a lifeline which can collapse anytime now due to lack of funding.  

“It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an Agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region.  

“UNRWA shares the list of all its staff with host countries every year, including Israel. The Agency never received any concerns on specific staff members.  

“Meanwhile, an investigation by OIOS into the heinous allegations will establish the facts. Moreover, as I announced on 17 January, an independent review by external experts will help UNRWA strengthen its framework for the strict adherence of all staff to the humanitarian principles.  

“I urge countries who have suspended their funding to re-consider their decisions before UNRWA is forced to suspend its humanitarian response. The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability". 

 

ENDs-  

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

For more information, please contact:

Juliette Touma
UNRWA Director of Communications
Mobile: 
+962-79-867-4628 (on whatsapp)