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Press Releases Joint Statement in Support of UNRWA
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Joint Statement in Support of UNRWA

We, human rights and other civil society organizations working in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, express our concern and alarm at the decision by 18 countries to suspend funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This suspension is a response to allegations of involvement by 12 UNRWA employees in the attacks on October 7. Amidst the catastrophic crisis in Gaza, with reports of approximately 100,000 Palestinians killed, injured, or missing—equating to a staggering 5% of Gaza’s population—UNRWA’s mission to provide essential humanitarian assistance is more critical than ever.

While the allegations concerning the involvement of 12 UNRWA employees in the October 7 attacks and involvement with Hamas are indeed serious, they should not cause punitive funding suspensions. It is important to highlight that UNRWA has taken the necessary actions by dismissing those implicated—a small part of its workforce of 30,000 national and international employees—and is currently conducting investigations into its organizational practices. The alleged actions of a few should not lead to the defunding or disabling of UNRWA’s work, thereby inflicting collective punishment on Gazans and the Palestinian refugee population at a time when they need the agency the most.

The suspension of funds from major donors significantly jeopardizes UNRWA’s capacity to deliver life-saving aid to over two million civilians in Gaza who depend on its services. In the context of ongoing military aggression by Israel, which has caused famine and disease outbreaks, the lack of UNRWA’s support could lead to catastrophic outcomes for those enduring already dire living conditions.

Whether all, some, or none of the employees are found guilty, this should not contribute to a narrative aimed at undermining UNRWA’s legitimacy and support among its donors and the international community. We call on countries that have suspended their funding to UNRWA to reverse their decisions and increase humanitarian aid for those in desperate need in Gaza and the surrounding areas. Further, we urge states to exert pressure on Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice’s recent provisional measures, which require taking all necessary actions to avoid intentional harm to civilians and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. This directly underscores the importance of not eliminating or delegitimizing the primary source of relief and aid for the Palestinian people. In the face of humanitarian catastrophe, saving human lives must take precedence. Aid is urgently needed – now more than ever. Tragically, for many, it is already too late.

 

Physicians for Human Rights Israel | B’Tselem | Breaking the Silence | Gisha | Machsom Watch | Ir Amim | Combatants for Peace

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