Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced the decision of 18 governments to withhold funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), accusing them of displaying “callous indifference” towards the dire situation in Gaza. The freeze on contributions, amounting to over three-quarters of UNRWA’s budget, comes at a critical time when the region faces acute shortages of essential resources such as food, water, and medicine.
The suspension of aid follows allegations made by Israel, claiming that a dozen UNRWA staff members were involved in attacks that occurred on October 7. Despite these allegations, HRW contends that cutting off funding exacerbates the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, who are already grappling with a humanitarian crisis.
Akshaya Kumar, Crisis Advocacy Director at HRW, condemned the actions of the governments involved, highlighting the mounting risks of famine and emphasizing the World Court’s binding order in a genocide case. Kumar criticized Israel’s foreign minister for leading efforts to shut down UNRWA, characterizing it as a “brazen” move that threatens to worsen the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza.
HRW warns that unless governments reverse their decisions to suspend aid to UNRWA, they risk deepening the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. UNRWA serves as a primary humanitarian channel for delivering essential aid to the region, and any disruption in funding could have devastating consequences for the Palestinian population.
The situation in Gaza remains precarious, with the population facing severe hardships exacerbated by years of conflict and blockade. HRW’s condemnation underscores the urgent need for international solidarity and support to address the humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza and uphold their basic rights.
As the crisis in Gaza continues to unfold, calls for action to reinstate funding to UNRWA grow louder, urging governments to prioritize humanitarian assistance and alleviate the suffering of those affected by the ongoing conflict.