Stop defunding UNRWA – demands UN General Assembly chief

Grieving family members bid a final farewell to their loved ones on the 140th day of the Israeli genocide campaign in Gaza

WITH increasing numbers of babies and children now dying of starvation in Gaza, Dennis Francis, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, has called for UN member states to provide ‘sustainable and predictable financial and political support’ to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees operating in Gaza.

Francis, responding to a letter from UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, said: ‘UNRWA has been an indispensable lifeline for millions of Palestinians.’
The agency, which provides healthcare, education and other vital services to the Palestinian people, is currently struggling to address the ‘biggest humanitarian crisis since its establishment’.
Last month, Israel accused UNRWA of having links to the October 7th operation launched by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas against the occupying entity.
The regime’s allegations against UNRWA, which were not publicly backed by evidence, have prompted more than 10 donor countries, including the United States, Germany, the European Union, Canada, and Japan, to suspend financial support.
The funding from these countries makes up the bulk of all funding received by the UN agency.
UNRWA said being cut off in this way means it will run out of money altogether within weeks.
A US intelligence assessment recently cast doubt on Israel’s accusations against UNRWA, citing the regime’s bias against the UN agency.
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) report released last week assessed with ‘low confidence’ that a handful of UNRWA staffers had taken part in Hamas’ October 7th operation.
The four-page intelligence report indicated that the NIC could not independently confirm the allegations.
Separately, the UN agency in a post on X said shelters in the besieged coastal region are severely overcrowded:
‘Clean water is scarce. Solid waste is accumulating. Spread of diseases is on the rise … The situation is catastrophic, but UNRWA teams continue working to provide critical aid.’
A two-month-old Palestinian baby has died from starvation in northern Gaza, according to media reports, as Israel stands accused of using starvation as a weapon of war.
The developments come amid reports that people in Gaza are facing a humanitarian crisis and starvation as Israel continues its relentless bombardment and is blocking the delivery of desperately-needed humanitarian aid.
Samer Abdeljaber, the World Food Programme’s (WFP’s) director for emergencies, says there is enough food stocked up across Gaza’s borders to feed the entire population, but it cannot safely reach the war-torn population due to the extensive ‘checks’ by Israeli forces.
‘We have enough food across the borders, even from Jordan and Egypt, to be able to support 2.2 million people,’ said Abdeljaber.
‘But we need to make sure we have the right access to Gaza from different crossings so that we can actually reach the people – whether they are in the north or the south or in the central areas.’
He noted that the WFP hopes to resume operations particularly in the north of Gaza, where it has had to suspend work due to the unsafe conditions but where there are ‘lots of people in need’.
On the 142nd day of the US-Israeli genocide in Gaza, fresh Israeli strikes on the besieged Strip have left nearly 100 more Palestinians dead, as the death toll from the onslaught fast approaches 30,000.
A recent opinion poll shows that the majority of Israeli settlers oppose the transfer of humanitarian aid to Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza Strip, where the occupying regime has been waging its genocidal war since October.
The findings were published in a survey conducted by the so-called Israel Democracy Institute, saying over two out of three Jewish Israelis, which accounted for 68% of respondents, disapprove of ‘the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza residents at this time.’
The opinion poll said the numbers are even worse when it comes to far-right Jewish Israelis, where the opposition stands at 80% – four out of five.
The results of the Israeli survey come as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a recent report that 550,000 people in Gaza are currently facing ‘catastrophic’ food insecurity levels.
Stressing that all the 2.2 million people in Gaza are in the top three hunger categories, from level three, which is considered an emergency, to level five, a catastrophe, FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol said: ‘We are seeing more and more people essentially on the brink of and moving into famine-like conditions every day,’ and are suffering unprecedented levels of famine-like conditions.
UN special rapporteurs also warned that one in four people are starving in Gaza and nine out of ten families in some areas spend a whole day and night without food.
Many humanitarian agencies, not least UNRWA, have had to halt operations in the Gaza Strip since October 7th, 2023, meaning hundreds of thousands of people do not have access to aid.
Since the start of Israel’s brutal aggression, at least 30,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed and about 70,000 others have been injured.
The regime has also intensified the siege of Gaza, leaving the city, home to more than 2.3 million Palestinians, without water, electricity, fuel, and internet.

  • The death toll of children and women in Gaza, after five months of Israeli aggression, has reached frightening numbers exceeding that of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war by six times.

In a report published on Sunday, Anadolu news agency compiled civilian fatalities in the Russian-Ukrainian war since February 24, 2022, and women and children’s deaths in the US-backed onslaught on Gaza since October 7th, 2023.
The report indicates that according to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission (HRMMU) in Ukraine, 10,378 civilians, including 579 children and 2,992 women have been killed, and 19,632 others injured since the beginning of that war in early 2022.
This is while Israeli strikes have killed 29,606 Palestinians, including at least 12,660 children and 8,570 women and injured 69,737, with more than 70% of the wounded being women and children.
The number of deaths almost five months after the Israeli aggression exceeds six times the number of women and children killed in the Russia-Ukraine War in two years.
Last month, the Britain-based charity Oxfam reported that the daily death toll of Palestinians in Israel’s war on Gaza surpasses that of any other major conflict in the 21st century, while survivors remain at high risk due to hunger, diseases and cold, as well as ongoing Israeli bombardments.
Israel has been relentlessly bombing the Palestinian enclave, from the air, land and sea, using more than 66,000 tons of explosives in the attacks, averaging 183 tons of explosives per square kilometre in Gaza, according to Palestinian sources.
As Gaza is devastated by the attacks, 1.9 million Palestinians have been displaced and the UN warned that 2.2 million people in the Gaza Strip are facing famine under Israel’s intense attack.
The head of UNRWA says the situation in Gaza has limited the agency’s ability to implement its mandate and pushed it to ‘breaking point’.
The 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, under an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since 2007, are trapped in an approximately 360 square kilometres (139 square miles) area, and due to the attacks, there is no safe place for them to take refuge in the whole of Gaza.
Nearly 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, covering an area of 64 square kilometres, amid raging attacks in northern, central and southern Gaza.
Now food is running out, with aid agencies unable to get into the area because of the bombing and frenzied looting of the few aid trucks.
The humanitarian catastrophe comes ahead of a potential Israeli ground invasion of Rafah, which houses more than 1.5 million displaced Palestinians and is the last major population centre in the Gaza Strip.