UN chief warns Palestinian aid agency cannot be replaced

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a warning, saying that the Palestinian refugee agency run by his organization cannot be removed, despite criticism following the revelation that 12 staff members were connected to Hamas’s attack on Israel.

A number of nations have stopped paying UNRWA, including the US, UK, Germany, and Japan. Guterres has spearheaded urgent negotiations with funders to get funding restored.

“No other organization has a meaningful presence inside Gaza — and nothing compared with this situation. So there is no other organization that would be able now to replace” it, Guterres told a media briefing.

After Israel accused UNRWA of permitting Hamas to use agency infrastructure in the Gaza Strip for military purposes, the conflict heated up toward the end of the previous month.

Cuts in financing will have an impact on regular Palestinians, UNRWA said, citing its swift response to Israel’s “credible” claims that 12 of its employees were involved in the Hamas assaults.

Israel has long been critical of the UN organization, claiming it consistently acts against its interests. Israel even promised to halt the agency’s operations in Gaza following the conflict.

In his defense, Guterres cited UNRWA’s cost-effectiveness as the primary reason it was the most suited institution to carry on providing help to Gaza.

“The costs with UNRWA are much lower than the costs with other agencies for historical reasons. The salaries paid by UNRWA are one-third of the salaries paid by UNICEF or WFP or other UN organizations,” Guterres said, singling out the UN’s children’s fund and its World Food Programme.

“So any attempt of replacement, that is not possible.”

Heavy fighting has raged on despite international efforts towards a ceasefire in the bloodiest ever Gaza war, sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel.

About 1,160 individuals, primarily civilians, lost their lives as a result of Hamas’s unprecedented attack, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli numbers.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, Israel murdered at least 27,840 individuals, predominantly women and children, during airstrikes and a military invasion that it started with the goal of eliminating the Hamas organization.

Some 250 hostages were taken by Hamas as well. 29 people are thought to have perished out of the 132 who Israel claims are still in Gaza.

Over a million Palestinians were crammed into Rafah on Thursday, and as Israel increased its airstrikes on the far-southern city, fears of ground combat intensified.

This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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