UN Security Council urges action on Gaza aid

The UN Security Council has called for urgent measures to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the council highlighted the “dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Gaza, urging parties to collaborate with Sigrid Kaag, the UN’s new humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator. Kaag’s role is crucial in expediting aid delivery to the region, where hundreds of thousands need essential supplies like food, water, and medicine.

Following a private meeting with Kaag, the 15-member council publicly reiterated their support for her mission.

Kaag, speaking to reporters, expressed optimism about the council’s backing. She emphasized the irreplaceable role of UNRWA, the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees, especially given the significant hunger crisis in Gaza affecting over half a million people.

The article detailed challenges faced by UNRWA, including funding suspensions from major donors like the U.S. and Germany. These suspensions followed Israeli allegations linking 12 UNRWA employees to a cross-border raid on Oct. 7. The Israeli government has accused Hamas and other groups of misusing aid and UN facilities for military purposes. UNRWA has denied these claims and responded to the accusations against its staff.

The U.S. State Department indicated a potential resumption of UNRWA funding, contingent on a thorough investigation into any employee-Hamas connections. Without renewed funding, UNRWA’s operations could cease by February’s end.

UNRWA stands as Gaza’s largest aid provider amidst Israel’s conflict with Hamas, which has displaced most of the population and created a humanitarian crisis. The U.S., contributing over $300 million annually, is UNRWA’s largest single donor.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller mentioned planned U.S. aid of about $300,000 but did not specify the funding’s restoration timeline.

Israel has consistently accused Hamas of exploiting UNRWA facilities for weapons storage and attacks, and promoting anti-Israel sentiments in schools. UNRWA maintains that it diligently works to prevent and address any misuse of its resources and facilities.