RAMALLAH, Sunday, January 28, 2024 (WAFA) – Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh today called on the countries that announced their temporary freeze of new financial assistance for UNRWA to reverse their decision.
During a press conference in Ramallah, Shtayyeh stressed that the Palestinian government, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, views with great concern the dangerous repercussions of the war waged against UNRWA and cutting off its funding.
The prime minister called on the countries that have suspended their funding for the UN agency, the primary provider of humanitarian assistance to people in Gaza, to revert such measures, stressing the need to enable UNRWA and the rest of the international institutions to resume their work of providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in need.
He noted that the countries that have announced freezing funding for UNRWA contribute about 70 percent of the agency’s budget, which in turn contributes to the relief of about 1.7 million people in the Gaza Strip.
Shayyeh added that the suspension of funds to UNRWA coincides with Israel's plan to displace the people in Gaza, indicating that this suspension comes during challenging times and at a time when the International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to allow aid to enter Gaza immediately.
He pointed out that the International Court of Justice has taken several important decisions from political, legal and humanitarian perspectives.
Shatyyeh said that an international campaign was launched against the UN agency following Israel’s allegations against some of the agency's staff without waiting for the completion of investigations, despite the agency’s affirmation that it is not responsible for any one-sided work of its individuals.
He affirmed that such actions against the agency are not new, stressing that Israel has been working for some time to liquidate the relief agency because of its connection to refugees and the right of return,
Shayyeh added that repeated aggression against all camps take place in this context, whether in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, especially the refugee camps of Jenin, Tulkarem, Nour Shams, Balata, Al-Fawwar, Aqabat Jabr and Dheisheh.
He noted that the Israeli attack on the United Nations, especially UNRWA, is a retaliatory attack against the agency for the testimonies and statements it has submitted to the ICJ to condemn Israel.
Shtayyeh affirmed that the suspension of funding for UNRWA comes after 114 days of aggression against Gaza, with the number of people being killed increasing and the displacement, starvation, power outage and shortage of water continuing.
He stressed that the aid provided to the Strip is insufficient and covers only 8 percent of its needs, stressing that Gaza has been left without a functional hospital.
He stressed that the aggression has so far led to the killing of 60,000 people and the wounding of over 62,000 others, with thousands reported missing.
In addition, the aggression caused massive destruction to infrastructure across the strip, he added.
The Prime Minister said that the world must start taking punitive measures against Israel and not against an international humanitarian organization that serves Israel's victims, indicating that freezing funding for UNRWA stands in direct contravention of the court's decision, which ordered increased aid delivery into the Gaza Strip.
He warned that such a decision would have devastating effects on the people in need in the Gaza Strip.
Shtayyeh added that this difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip indicates the need for greater efforts by all institutions, including UNRWA, to help those in need.
“UNRWA constitutes the cumulative memory of the plight of Palestinian refugees wherever they are; including in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” Shtayyeh said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that throughout UNRWA’s years of work, it has been a source of hope for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in accordance with the United Nations resolutions, especially resolution No. 194.