News

Row over UN agency 'distraction' from dire Gaza crisis: WHO

By AFP

January 30, 2024 05:56 PM


 

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday the row over funding for the UN's Palestinian refugee agency was distracting from the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

It urged governments to keep backing UNRWA, which has seen several key donors suspend funding over Israel's accusations that several staff were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack.

"Criminal activity can never go unpunished," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a media briefing in Geneva.

"But the discussion... (is) a distraction from what's really going on every day, every hour, every minute in Gaza."

Israel's bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza, now in their fourth month, have left much of the besieged Palestinian territory in ruins and many of its people on the verge of starving.

"We appeal to donors not to suspend their funding to UNRWA at this very critical moment. (It) will only hurt the people of Gaza who desperately need support," said Lindmeier.

"As important as this discussion is, let's not forget what the real issues are on the ground."

At least 12 countries have stopped funding UNRWA in recent days.

The agency has fired several employees over Israel's accusations and promised to investigate the claims, which were not specified.

 

- 'Border of famine' -

 

Lindmeier said UNRWA ran 22 health centres before the war but only six were still operating by mid-January.

"The population is really at the border of famine... It's getting worse by the day," he said.

"A malnourished population is very prone to catching diseases and infections."

The war began after Hamas's October 7 attack in Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Militants also seized 250 hostages.

Israel's relentless retaliation has killed at least 26,751 in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to its Hamas-run health ministry.

Lindmeier said the UNRWA row diverted the world's attention from the Gaza death toll and a siege "preventing an entire population from access to clean water, food and shelter".

"It's a distraction from preventing electricity to come into Gaza," he said.

"It's also a distraction from the continuous shelling of an entire population -- even in areas that just moments before have been designated as safe areas.

"It's a distraction from attacking shelters, schools, hospitals."

On Tuesday, leading NGOs condemned the halt to UNRWA funding.

"The population faces starvation, looming famine and an outbreak of disease under Israel's continued indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate deprivation of aid in Gaza," they said.


AFP


Most Read

  1. Farmers can apply for Bardana through App from Saturday as Punjab starts wheat procurement campaign Farmers can apply for Bardana through App from Saturday as Punjab starts wheat procurement campaign
  2. 16 die, 30 wounded as truck carrying 100 pilgrims fall into ditch near Hub 16 die, 30 wounded as truck carrying 100 pilgrims fall into ditch near Hub
  3. Ayeza Khan has ideal stylist squad! Ayeza Khan has ideal stylist squad!
  4. French athlete breaks world record after climbing Eiffel Tower French athlete breaks world record after climbing Eiffel Tower
  5. Punjab students asked to get registered for getting petrol, e-bikes Punjab students asked to get registered for getting petrol, e-bikes
  6. Star woman cricketer Aliya Riaz ties the knot with Ali Younis in intimate Nikkah Ceremony Star woman cricketer Aliya Riaz ties the knot with Ali Younis in intimate Nikkah Ceremony

Opinion

  1. Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph
    Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph

    By Zulfiqar Ali Mir

  2. IMEC to sabotage CPEC
    IMEC to sabotage CPEC

    By Dr Asif Channer

  3. 1947 TO FORM 47
    1947 TO FORM 47

    By Dr Asif Channer

  4. Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....
    Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....

    By Ali Ramay

  5. Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses
    Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses

    By Ali Ramay

  6. Channer Pir: The Great Saint of Cholistan
    Channer Pir: The Great Saint of Cholistan

    By Dr Asif Channer