UN: Without urgent humanitarian action, ‘a whole generation of children in Gaza could be lost’

ООН: без срочных гуманитарных мер может быть «потеряно целое поколение детей в Газе»

UNRWA staff are trying to help children cope with the psychological impact of the war in Gaza. UN: Without urgent humanitarian action, ‘a whole generation of children in Gaza could be lost’ Peace and Security

“An entire generation” of children in Gaza are doomed to poverty and conflict unless the humanitarian funding situation improves. This was stated on Monday by the head of the UN agency for helping Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini.

Appealing to Member States for political and financial support, the UNRWA Commissioner-General stressed that the UN agency is struggling to hold its own  afloat after nearly nine months of massive Israeli bombing and ground operations in the enclave. “The pressure on the agency today is greater than ever before,” he stressed. 

Anarchy and looting

Lazzarini recalled 193 UNRWA staff killed since the start of the war, which was triggered by Hamas-led attacks and hostage-taking in Israel. More than 180 UN facilities have also been damaged or destroyed since October 7, and at least 500 people have been killed while taking refuge in the agency’s premises. “Our premises have been used for military purposes by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups,” the UNRWA chief told the Advisory Commission in Geneva. “Our convoys have been attacked despite coordinating our movements with the Israeli authorities in the West Bank.” Lazzarini noted that children in Gaza continue to die from malnutrition and dehydration “while food and clean water are waiting in trucks” outside the enclave. The UNRWA chief also pointed to reports of anarchy, looting and smuggling that are hampering the distribution of humanitarian aid. 

Lost Generation

According to him, the primary victims of the war are more than 625 thousand “deeply traumatized” children who live amid destruction and are deprived of the opportunity to study. About 300 thousand of them were enrolled in almost 290 UNRWA schools before the war. Children out of school “are at risk of violence and exploitation, child labor, early marriage and recruitment by armed groups,” Lazzarini stressed. “Without decisive intervention to restore education, we will condemn an ​​entire generation to poverty and sow the seeds of hatred, resentment and future conflicts,” he emphasized. 

The situation in the West Bank

 The head of UNRWA also gloomily assessed the situation in the occupied West Bank, where about 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 well-oiled system of segregation and oppression,” the Commissioner General said.&nbsp ;

Regional escalation

Intensifying clashes on the Israeli-Lebanese border also threaten the development of “a full-scale war,” Lazzarini continued. According to him, millions of Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are watching with alarm developments in Gaza and the West Bank. Read also:

UN Secretary-General: “Lebanon must not become another Gaza”

“Most have lived in camps for generations, often with limited rights and in abject poverty, awaiting a political solution that will end their plight. Today they have witnessed the greatest Palestinian tragedy since the Nakba,” he said, referring to the events of 1948 that led to the expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. For 75 years, these people have turned to UNRWA for protection and support for human rights, the Commissioner-General added. 

Lack of funds

In calling for support to expand UNRWA’s humanitarian assistance, Lazzarini warned that the agency could will be forced to cease operations after August. This depends on UNRWA receiving both already planned funding and new contributions, he explained, adding that $1.2 billion in funds are needed by the end of the year. Today, only 18 percent of this amount is available.


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