UNRWA Chief: Political Motives Behind Attacks on Agency Aiding Palestinian Refugees

UNRWA chief claims political motives behind attacks on agency, calls for probe into incidents targeting staff and premises in Gaza. Funding cuts and politicization threaten UNRWA's ability to aid Palestinian refugees, with implications for regional stability.

Muthana Al-Najjar
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UNRWA Chief: Political Motives Behind Attacks on Agency Aiding Palestinian Refugees

UNRWA Chief: Political Motives Behind Attacks on Agency Aiding Palestinian Refugees

Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has stated that political motives are the primary reason behind the recent attacks on the agency. In recent months, UNRWA has faced an unprecedented level of criticism and funding cuts, with 18 countries reviewing or freezing their contributions.

Lazzarini believes the attacks are not genuinely motivated by concerns over the neutrality of UNRWA staff. Instead, he asserts that "the primary objective is to strip Palestinians of their refugee status." The Commissioner-General called on the UN Security Council to order an independent investigation into incidents where UNRWA premises, staff, and operations have been targeted and disregarded in the Gaza Strip.

The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has exacerbated the situation, with Lazzarini revealing that 180 UNRWA staff members have been killed, 160 premises damaged or destroyed, and at least 400 people killed while seeking protection under the UN flag. He emphasized the need for accountability to prevent setting a dangerous precedent in future conflict situations.

Why this matters: The attacks on UNRWA and the politicization of its mandate threaten the agency's ability to provide vital aid and support to millions of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. The outcome of this situation could have significant implications for the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the stability of the region.

Despite the challenges, Lazzarini expressed confidence in UNRWA's ability to continue its critical services. The agency has managed to partially offset the funding shortfall by raising $100 million through online donations since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October 2023. However, he stressed that empathy and understanding from all sides are essential to achieving lasting peace and security in the region.

Key Takeaways

  • UNRWA chief says attacks on agency driven by political motives to strip Palestinians of refugee status
  • UNRWA calls for UN probe into attacks on its premises, staff, and operations in Gaza Strip
  • 180 UNRWA staff killed, 160 premises damaged/destroyed, 400+ killed seeking UN protection during conflict
  • Attacks on UNRWA threaten its ability to provide aid to millions of Palestinian refugees in Middle East
  • UNRWA partially offset funding shortfall but stresses need for empathy to achieve lasting peace