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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UNRWA Chief Barred Entry by Israel

Israel denies entry to UNRWA chief as humanitarian crisis looms in Gaza.

Israel blocked Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, from entering the territory. Lazzarini, scheduled to visit Rafah, was informed of the denial at a joint press conference in Cairo with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. The move, attributed to “Israeli authorities,” comes amid escalating tensions and a looming famine warning issued by the UN.

Lazzarini’s remarks shed light on the grim reality facing Gaza’s 2.4 million inhabitants, with more than half experiencing catastrophic hunger and starvation. The UNRWA chief emphasized the toll exacted by the conflict, with over 31,000 casualties reported in Israel’s retaliatory campaign against Hamas. He highlighted the devastating impact on UNRWA facilities, with over 150 structures destroyed, exacerbating an already dire situation.

The denial of entry comes amid a funding crisis for UNRWA, with several countries, including the United States, pausing contributions following Israeli accusations against agency staff.

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Despite resumed funding from some nations like Australia, the controversy underscores the precarious position of UNRWA, tasked with providing crucial support to millions of Palestinian refugees across the region. The agency’s condemnation of the October 7 attacks reflects its commitment to upholding humanitarian principles despite mounting challenges.

As the Gaza Strip teeters on the brink of famine, urgent calls for action reverberate across the international community. With UNRWA facilities in ruins and access denied to key humanitarian personnel, the situation demands immediate attention and concerted efforts to avert further catastrophe. Lazzarini’s impassioned plea for political will to facilitate aid delivery underscores the urgency of the crisis, emphasizing the need for coordinated action to address the humanitarian emergency in Gaza.