UNRWA Commissioner-General visits Gaza after latest violence – occupied Palestinian territory
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini is in Gaza for the first time after the latest wave of violence. Mr. Lazzarini underlined the Agency’s commitment to the rights and well-being of Palestinian refugees, who represent more than 70% of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants.
“I am deeply frustrated by this insane episode of extreme violence which has killed civilians, destroyed infrastructure and sent Gaza back for years,” Lazzarini said. “19 of the 60 children killed in this conflict went to UNRWA schools, they were known to my colleagues.”
Mr Lazzarini went to Shifa Hospital where he met Sarah, a five-year-old girl who was paralyzed by a shrapnel that hit her in an airstrike on her apartment building. It requires immediate evacuation for medical treatment on board. He also visited the site of the building where ten members of the Abu Hatab family were killed. He met a surviving member, who lost his wife and four children, as well as his sister and four of his children. “The lasting psychosocial impacts of violence are immeasurable. The ensuing mental health crisis will require the fullest funding of our psychosocial services, ”Mr. Lazzarini reiterated.
Mr Lazzarini visited families in the Beach and Jabaliya refugee camps and met with UNRWA staff dealing with emergency relief, such as repairing a huge water pipe and organizing ” assistance to displaced people in a UNRWA school. “Every morning during the eleven-day conflict, our colleagues went to work not knowing if they would come back to their families,” said Lazzarini.
In line with the $ 38 million flash appeal, UNRWA calls on the international community to fund the Agency’s efforts to address the most urgent humanitarian needs of affected populations in Gaza and the West Bank. In addition to the damage resulting from the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and the continuing unrest in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. “I leave Gaza with an urgent mission: to ensure that stability remains in the lives of Palestinian refugees in Gaza through a strong UNRWA. I will also remind the international community that without addressing the root causes of the conflict, occupation, displacement, of which we have been strongly reminded in East Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah, the blockade and the cycle of violence – this feeling of normalcy will only be a mirage until the next conflict, ”concluded Mr. Lazzarini.
UNRWA is faced with an increased demand for services resulting from an increase in the number of registered Palestinian refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and the worsening of poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been overtaken by growing needs. As a result, UNRWA’s program budget, which supports the provision of basic essential services, is operating with a large deficit. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to make every effort to fully fund the Agency’s program budget. UNRWA’s emergency programs and key projects, which also operate with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 to provide assistance and protection to some 5.7 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in its five areas of operations. Its mission is to help Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip to realize their full potential for human development, pending a just and lasting solution to their fate. UNRWA’s services include education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.