Skip to main content

UN agencies voice concern over worsening violence in Gaza

UN agencies voice concern over worsening violence in Gaza

United Nations organizations said today that they are “gravely concerned” about the escalating violence in Gaza, where 59 people – including two UN workers – have been killed and 273 others injured since the weekend.

This afternoon, a refuse collector with the UN agency tasked with helping Palestinian refugees was caught in the crossfire while on the job and killed in Khan Younis, and yesterday another worker was hit by bullets in Beach Camp and died in hospital.

Expressing his deep sadness, John Ging, Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East said “we at UNRWA will not forget their bravery and commitment at this most difficult time.”

He extended his personal condolences to the families of those who lost their lives while carrying out their duties and “attempting to fulfil their humanitarian responsibilities to the Palestinian people.”

Due to the rise in the threat level UNRWA staff face, Mr. Ging said that that agency has “no choice” but to cut back the agency’s operations.

UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd has temporarily suspended operations, except for the provision of essential medical services and emergency food distributions.

“The grave incidents and the increasingly desperate situation in Gaza underline once more the need for all parties to show the utmost restraint and allow humanitarian organizations such as UNRWA to fulfil their responsibilities toward the Palestinian people,” Mr. Ging observed.

Kevin Kennedy, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, spoke on behalf of all UN organizations in the area in reaffirming the UN’s commitment to continue its humanitarian work in Gaza to help Palestinians in need.

“There is a need for immediate efforts to restore calm, protect the lives of innocent Palestinians and ensure the safe and secure distribution of emergency aid,” Mr. Kennedy said, noting how the ongoing violence is putting the UN’s aid efforts at risk.

UN organizations jointly said they were troubled by reports of attacks on hospitals and ambulances as well as extrajudicial killings, which cast into doubt whether international humanitarian and human rights law are being followed.

They also voiced concern over the humanitarian effects on the population from the heavy street fighting, which impedes civilian access to and the UN’s delivery of crucial health services and food supplies, with gun battles taking place in two UNRWA facilities.