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UN: ‘No substitute’ for UNRWA’s lifesaving role in Gaza

February 1, 2024 at 12:07 pm

United Nations’ senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag speaks to press at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States on January 30, 2024. [Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza at the UN, Sigrid Kaag, said on Tuesday that no organisation can be a substitute for UNRWA in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip.

“Apart from a political decision, which would have to be made by the General Assembly, there is no way any organisation can replace or substitute the tremendous capacity and the fabric of UNRWA and its ability and knowledge,” Kaag told reporters following a Security Council meeting on Gaza.

Kaag said the session addressed the issue of providing supply routes to bring aid into Gaza and providing a suitable environment for distribution.

She noted the key role the agency has played over the decades, before the current Israeli aggression, in education, healthcare and other services, since it was established by the General Assembly in December 1949.

She emphasised that the absence of a humanitarian ceasefire is hampering aid efforts and causing delays.

READ: What is UNRWA, and why is Israel trying to have it closed down?

“Currently, there is no space, given the fact that there is no ceasefire there and the conflict is raging. There is no space to have monitors all over Gaza to work with the agencies to see, to verify and monitor.”

Since 26 January, 18 countries and the European Union have suspended funding to UNRWA, based on Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s employees participated in the 7 October infiltration by Palestinian resistance fighters into Israeli towns and villages in which over 200 Israelis and foreigners were taken as prisoners of war.

The Western announcements came hours after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent further bloodshed in Gaza and allow the immediate entry of aid into the besieged enclave in line with its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.