The World Health Organization urgently calls on countries to resume their support for UN bodies.
The United Nations said earlier that one in every four residents of the Gaza Strip suffers from hunger. The World Health Organization has also warned that there is a high risk of famine breaking out at any moment. This means that hunger is so bad that many residents will get sick and die.
– This is a population on the verge of starvation. This population is being pushed to the extreme, and they are not parties to this war. They, as well as their health facilities, should be protected, Mike Ryan, head of disaster response at the World Health Organization, said at a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
This warning comes after 14 countries announced the suspension of their support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Last week, the United Nations International Court of Justice ordered Israel to allow emergency aid into the Gaza Strip and prevent genocide against Palestinians.
– Catastrophic consequences
So far, there is no indication that Israel will allow more food and other emergency aid into the war-torn Palestinian region.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that cutting UNRWA funding would have catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza. The Palestinians lack almost everything after more than three months of Israeli attacks and very little humanitarian aid.
– No other organization has the capacity to provide such large-scale and urgently needed assistance to the 2.2 million people in Gaza. Tedros said of UNRWA: “We ask that these decisions be reconsidered.”
The World Health Organization had previously indicated that it only took 100 days of war before the situation in the Gaza Strip approached famine. In Syria, it took five to six years for some besieged areas to reach a similar situation.
Health workers aboard a French aircraft carrier off the coast of Gaza recently told SVT that all the Palestinian children they are treating are showing signs of severe malnutrition.
Eddie asks thinking
Earlier on Wednesday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Ede also asked countries to consider the broader consequences of reducing support for Palestinians in Gaza. Among the countries that suspended support are the United States of America, Germany, France, Great Britain, Sweden and Finland, in addition to many other Western countries and Japan.
The background is that Israel has accused at least a dozen UNRWA employees of participating in the Hamas attack on October 7. The organization has 13,000 staff in Gaza, and most of the 12 staff had already been dismissed when the countries announced the suspension of support.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that UNRWA is the backbone of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Yesterday, I met with donors to listen to their concerns and explain the measures we are taking to address them. He said during a meeting with the UN Committee on the Rights of Palestinians on Wednesday that UNRWA is the backbone of all humanitarian aid in Gaza.
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