Head of Gaza’s main UN agency warns ‘an entire generation’ could be lost — Global Issues

Seeking political and financial support from member states, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Secretary-General Philippe Lazzarini stressed that after nearly nine months of intense Israeli bombing and ground operations, the UN is “unable to withstand the strain of the relentless assault on Gaza.”

“The pressure on the authorities today is greater than ever before,” he argued.

Lazzarini detailed the scale of destruction at UN facilities, in addition to the 193 UNRWA staff killed since Hamas-led terrorist attacks and hostage-taking sparked the war.

He said more than 180 facilities had been damaged or destroyed since October 7 and “at least 500 people” had been killed while seeking protection under the UN flag.

“Our facilities are being used for military purposes by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups,” the UNRWA chief told the meeting. Advisory Committee In Geneva: “Despite acting in coordination with Israeli authorities in the West Bank, our convoys are coming under attack… Our operational space is shrinking.”

Highlighting the current situation in Gaza “Living hell” for more than 2 million people A senior humanitarian official there noted that while “trucks of food and clean water are waiting” outside the enclave, children continue to die of malnutrition and dehydration.

And amid growing reports of a breakdown in law and order, Lazzarini said: Rampant robbery and smuggling This is currently happening, delaying the delivery of badly needed humanitarian assistance.

Among Gaza’s most vulnerable people, children have been the hardest hit by the ongoing war, with more than 625,000 “deeply traumatized” young people “living in the rubble” and unable to access an education, he claimed.

Before the war, some 300,000 people were enrolled in some 290 UNRWA schools, but those who are now out of school “are at risk of violence, exploitation, child labour, early marriage and recruitment by armed groups,” the UNRWA chief argued.

“Without decisive intervention to restart education, we will impoverish an entire generation and sow the seeds of hatred, resentment and future conflict.”

Chaos in the West Bank

While people in Gaza, repeatedly displaced by war, are “fighting for their lives,” the UNRWA chief issued an equally bleak assessment of the situation in the occupied West Bank, where some 500 Palestinians have been killed since October.

“Daily attacks by Israeli settlers, military incursions and the destruction of homes and critical infrastructure are part of a sophisticated system of isolation and repression,” the director general said.

Lebanon Alert

Increasing clashes on the Israeli-Lebanese border also pose the threat of “full-scale war,” Lazzarini said, pointing to millions of Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan watching events in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with “anxiety and fear.”

“Most have been living in camps for generations, often with restricted rights and extreme poverty, waiting for a political solution that would put an end to their plight. Today, they are witnessing the greatest tragedy since Palestinian independence. Nakba“It was a terrible tragedy,” he said, referring to the 1948 events that led to some 750,000 Palestinians being forced to leave their homes.

“As they have done for 75 years, they look to UNRWA for protection and the fulfilment of their fundamental human rights.”

Lazzarini appealed for support for UNRWA to expand its assistance to Palestinian refugees, and noted the agency may cease operations “after August.”

This depends on UNRWA receiving both scheduled and new donations, he explained, adding that $1.2 billion is needed to meet critical humanitarian needs until the end of the year, with only 18 percent of the appeal funded to date.

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