(Witness): Suspension of UNRWA
funding, a collective punishment on 5.9 million Palestinian refugees with looming
The Palestinian Association for
Human Rights (Witness) warns in its recent report that the suspension of
UNRWA’s funding imposes a collective punishment on millions of Palestinian
refugees with serious repercussions looming in the horizon. The report comes in
the wake of the suspension of several donors’ financial support for UNRWA after
allegations of involvement by some of its employees in the October 7 attacks. Notably,
these countries contributions make up over 78% of the total funding. This
suspension comes at a critical time, as Palestinian refugees, especially those
in Gaza, face urgent needs exacerbated by ongoing military actions conducted by
the occupation forces.
The report findings were presented
by Dr. Mahmoud El Hanafi, the director of the association, during a press
conference held at the Lebanese Press Syndicate in the capital, Beirut in the
presence of NGOs representatives and a gathering of journalists.
The purpose of the report was to highlight
UNRWA's legal authority as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 302/1948 and to emphasize the agency's capability to fulfill its
international obligations towards Palestinian refugees across the five operation
areas. Additionally, the report sought to underscore the agency's crucial role
during the Israeli war on Gaza, emphasizing its skilled workforce and extensive
experience in supporting Palestinian refugees in times of both conflict and
peace. The report warned donor nations and host countries about the grave
consequences of this decision in the near future.
According to the report, UNRWA
stands as a living witness to the Nakba, serving as a vital lifeline for 5.9
million Palestinian refugees under its mandate across its five operation areas.
Despite its critical importance to millions of refugees, UNRWA has faced direct
and explicit targeting for years. The report concluded with the following key
shows the substantial ramifications of the suspension of UNRWA funding on the
lives of Palestinian refugees in all areas of their presence. This includes
profound effects on education, healthcare, relief aid, and infrastructure. The
cessation of funding is expected to exacerbate poverty, illiteracy, and
unemployment rates among Palestinian refugees.
agency's inability to fulfill its international obligations towards refugees
will significantly impact the host countries, which already grapple with severe
and compounded economic and social crises.
suspension of UNRWA funding because of alleged acts of individuals will impact
millions of refugees. This is classified as a form of ‘collective punishment’ and
may amount to a war crime.
suggest that since the Oslo Agreement in 1993, Israel has been reinforcing the idea
that UNRWA is no longer necessary. Instead, it suggests that the world should
prioritize the establishment of a Palestinian state, with openly stated plans
in this regard by multiple officials. Israel has taken advantage of its
genocidal war on Gaza to further its campaign against UNRWA.
years, the agency has been facing chronic funding shortages, resulting in
accumulation of debts year after another. This crisis has been reflected on the
quality and quantity of services provided to Palestinian refugees.
suspension of funding by donor countries coincides with a decision by the
International Court of Justice that has displeased Israel, indicating a clear
response from these countries in favor of Israel. These are the same countries
that have turned a blind eye to the occupation's crimes against UN facilities,
the deaths of more than 150 UN personnel, and the targeting of the agency's own
shelters for displaced persons.
contributions to UNRWA’s fund don’t exceed 5.1%, barely sufficient to meet the
minimum needs of refugees and can’t compensate the sharp deficit caused by the
suspension of funding from major donors (78%).
The report presented key
countries to immediately reconsider their decision to suspend UNRWA funding and
to increase their financial contributions to address the chronic deficit,
ensuring the agency's continued operation and provision of vital services to
on the international community to ensure the continuity of UNRWA's work (both
politically and in terms of services) and to provide international protection
for Palestinian refugees.
support for the International Court of Justice's decision issued in 2024, which
called for the provision of humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.
for the formation of an international inquiry committee to investigate the
targeting of United Nations facilities, including UNRWA centers, and the deaths
of more than 150 UN staff members.
For full report, visit the link:
The Palestinian Association for
Human Rights (Witness)