July 22, 2024 2:03 pm

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Gaza, March 9

Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, has said that the situation in the Gaza Strip defies description and has not been seen “in any previous crisis”.

“We are facing a tragedy that is not related to food,” Lazzarini said on Friday in a press statement, noting that people in Gaza suffer from deliberate starvation operations that could have been avoided, Xinhua news agency reported.

He warned that the Gaza Strip, inhabited by about 2.35 million people, is on the verge of entering into a famine, and “children there are dying due to hunger and thirst,” stressing the need to open land crossings for aid trucks to enter Gaza.

“Airdrops cannot replace land aid,” he added.

According to the Gaza-based Health Ministry, at least 20 people, mostly children, have died as a result of malnutrition and drought caused by the war.

Meanwhile, Lazzarini said that the agency “has not yet received any evidence confirming Israel’s allegations that UNRWA employees participated in the October 7 attack,” noting that it would be wrong to dismantle the UNRWA before reaching a permanent political solution.

In January, the organisation was rocked by Israel’s accusations that 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7 attacks in southern Israel, carried out by Hamas.

It led to several countries halting contributions of nearly $440 million, representing nearly half of UNRWA’s yearly funding.

Lazzarini said late last month that the agency is facing repeated calls by Israel to dismantle UNRWA and freeze its funding by donors.

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