UN refugee agency launches $1.2B appeal for Gaza, West Bank amid Israeli attacks

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) issued an urgent appeal on Wednesday for $1.21 billion to address the humanitarian needs of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

“The scars of war are seen on a massive scale in Gaza. Meanwhile, violence is increasing in the West Bank,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement.

“It is critical to support UNRWA in providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance and development services in health and education,” he added.

UNRWA said the appeal aims to respond to the most urgent needs of 1.7 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and more than 200,000 refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“The past months proved that there is no replacement or alternative to UNRWA,” Lazzarini added.

Israel has launched a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023, which killed nearly 1,200 people.

More than 34,200 Palestinians have since been killed and 77,200 others injured amid a tight siege imposed by Israel, which left the entire population, especially residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

More than six months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, according to the UN.

In March, the UN warned of “imminent famine” in Gaza and appealed for swift action to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the territory.

UNRWA was created by the UN General Assembly more than 70 years ago to assist Palestinians who were forcibly displaced from their land.

The agency provides crucial support to millions of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and other areas where large numbers of registered Palestinians reside.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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