Photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh Agence France-Presse A man wearing a jacket bearing the logo of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) walked down a street in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, on Tuesday.
France Media Agency in Geneva
January 30, 2024
- Middle East
The controversy surrounding UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, some of whose employees are accused by Israel of being involved in the October 7 massacres, “diverts attention » of the humanitarian crisis and the nearly 27,000 deaths in Gaza, deplored the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.
“Criminal activities must never go unpunished. But the current discussion only distracts from what is really happening every day, every hour, every minute in Gaza,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told a news briefing. in Geneva. “Let’s not forget what the real problems are on the ground,” he added.
A dozen countries announced they would suspend their funding to UNRWA after Israeli accusations, threatening its aid operations to the civilian population of Gaza, devastated by nearly four months of war and in the grip of a serious crisis humanitarian.
Mr. Lindmeier recalled that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had called on donors “not to suspend their funding to UNRWA at this very critical time” as this “will only harm the people of Gaza , who desperately needs help.”
The WHO spokesperson lamented that this discussion on UNRWA, “as important as it is, distracts attention from the nearly 27,000 deaths, 70% of them women and men. 'children', in Gaza.
“It distracts from the fact that an entire population is being prevented from having access to clean water, to food, to shelter. This distracts from the fact that electricity has been blocked from reaching Gaza for over 100 days,” Lindmeier said.
“It also distracts from the fact that an entire population is being subjected to continuous bombardment, even in areas that moments before had been designated safe,” he said. added.
The war was sparked by an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 in Israel that killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official figures.
Some 250 people were kidnapped during the attack, around 100 of whom were released at the end of November during a truce. There are still 132 people taken hostage, 28 of whom are presumed dead according to Israel.
In response, the State of Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, and launched a massive military operation that left 26,637 people dead and more than 50,000 injured, the vast majority civilians, according to the Palestinian movement's Ministry of Health.
Israel has accused 12 of UNRWA's 30,000 regional staff of involvement in the Hamas attack on October 7.