UNRWA has reached “breaking point,” warns its head

UNRWA has reached “breaking point,” warns its head

In a letter, Philippe Lazzarini called for “political support” from the UN General Assembly to enable the UN agency for Palestinian refugees to survive.


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People on bicycles in front of the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza, destroyed by Israeli raids, February 21, 2024. (DAWOUD ABO ALKAS / ANADOLU / AFP)

“It is with deep regret that I have to inform you today that the agency has reached its breaking point.” The UNRWA head wrote in a letter to the President of the UN General Assembly. In the text published on Thursday, February 22, the head of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees, Frenchman Philippe Lazzarini, denounced “Israel’s repeated calls to dismantle and freeze donor funding in the face of unprecedented humanitarian needs in Gaza.”

Israel accuses 12 members of the United Nations agency of involvement in the attack carried out by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the killing of 1,160 people, most of them civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse count.

But even if “To date, Israel has not shared any evidence with UNRWA.”Philippe Lazzarini said that 16 countries had suspended their funding, amounting to a total of $450 million, warning that the agency’s operations across the region “It will be seriously compromised from March onwards.” This is while senior United Nations officials confirm that UNRWA is the backbone of humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip.

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Restoring donor confidence

Thus demands Philippe Lazzarini “Political support” In order to enable UNRWA to survive, in addition to reforming the way it is funded, which relies mainly on voluntary contributions.

An internal investigation was launched, while Secretary-General António Guterres assigned an independent committee headed by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to evaluate UNRWA and its work. “Neutrality.” The goal of this mission, “sensitive”, It is allowing donors “Restoring trust”Katherine Colonna made the announcement Thursday at a news conference.

“My goal is to provide a rigorous, evidence-based report that will help UNRWA fulfill its mandate.”She insisted, making it clear that she was planning to “Make recommendations” In the final report expected by April 20.

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