South Asia and Beyond

Humanitarian Challenge: UNRWA Funding Crisis

Amid war and devastation in Gaza, the premier humanitarian agency there UNRWA, is in the middle of an unprecedented crisis, accused by Israel of being complicit in the October 7th Hamas attack. The agency has had to dismiss no less than 9 employees after an investigation, two others are being investigated but the problem doesn’t end there.

Intelligence reportedly conveyed by Israel to the US claims that no less than 1200 Gazans working for the UN Relief Agency, have links to either Hamas or Palestine Islamic Jihad. Major donors including the US, UK, and Germany have stopped funding the agency and warned they will not resume until suitable corrective measures are taken.

Israel is demanding that the Relief Agency be moved out of Gaza, indicating it has no faith in it. It wants some other agency to step in, which is independent and credible. Israel will not relent and its Western backers appear determined to support Tel Aviv.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is meeting donors in New York, hopeful of finding a solution that would enable him to resume relief operations in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have said humanitarian operations must resume and blamed Israel for exacerbating the human crisis.

The funding crunch comes at a time when the situation in Gaza deteriorates every day given the pace and intensity of Israel’s attacks. Casualties are mounting on all sides but it is the civilians caught in the middle of this war that demands attention. Exiting from what is a hell hole is impossible with no neighbouring Arab country ready to accommodate the Gazan refugees. At the same time Israel is determined to eliminate Hamas from Gaza, and to that end will stop at nothing.