Friday, February 2, 2024

Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis Worsens as UNRWA Funding Suspended | TOME


The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza: UNRWA’s Financial Struggles

The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is reaching a critical point as 16 donor countries have withdrawn their financial support from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This withdrawal of funds puts more than 2 million people in Gaza at risk of further deterioration.

The situation in Gaza has been exacerbated by Israel’s bombardment and escalating military operations in Khan Younis. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee to southern Gaza, worsening the overcrowding in the Rafah Governorate. With over 1.4 million people already struggling for survival in this area, the influx of displaced individuals has put a strain on resources and infrastructure.

Most of those who have been displaced are currently seeking shelter in temporary structures, tents, or even in the open. Their main concern is the potential loss of vital food and aid provided by UNRWA. Thomas White, the director of UNRWA affairs in Gaza, describes Rafah as a “sea of people fleeing bombardments.” Many of those fleeing Khan Younis have already been displaced multiple times and have had to leave the largest UNRWA shelter, the Khan Younis Training Centre.

Despite being among the displaced themselves, UNRWA staff members continue to deliver food and tents to those who are newly displaced. The reliance on UNRWA for fundamental needs such as shelter, food, and healthcare is crucial for the residents of Gaza, particularly women and children who make up the majority of the population.

The ongoing war has led to a deterioration of humanitarian conditions, further compounded by restricted humanitarian access due to Israel’s siege of the strip. UNRWA has had limited access to the north, where famine is looming, since the beginning of the conflict. Reports have emerged that people in the area are grinding bird feed to make flour due to the scarcity of food. UNRWA has been coordinating with the Israeli army to gain access to the north, but their requests have largely been denied.

When UNRWA convoys are finally permitted to enter the area, people rush to the trucks to get food and often consume it on the spot. The agency, which is the largest humanitarian organization in Gaza, employs around 13,000 staff members, with over 3,000 actively involved in providing aid despite the challenging conditions. UNRWA’s presence and assistance are crucial for the survival of Gazans during this crisis.

The withdrawal of financial support from UNRWA by several nations, including Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK, following the lead of the US, has further exacerbated the agency’s financial struggles. Without adequate funding, UNRWA’s ability to provide essential services and support to the people of Gaza is severely compromised.

The international community must recognize the urgency of the situation in Gaza and take immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis. It is essential that donor countries reinstate their financial support to UNRWA to ensure the provision of shelter, food, and healthcare to the vulnerable population in Gaza. Without UNRWA’s assistance, it is difficult to imagine how Gazans will survive this crisis.

In conclusion, the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is at risk of further deterioration due to the withdrawal of financial support from UNRWA by 16 donor countries. The ongoing war and restricted humanitarian access have worsened the living conditions in Gaza, with many people relying on UNRWA for their basic needs. It is crucial for the international community to step up and provide the necessary funding to support UNRWA’s efforts in alleviating the suffering of the people in Gaza.

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