Head of Palestinian Aid Agency Warns It Is at ‘Breaking Point’

The main United Nations aid agency that serves Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere in the region has “reached a breaking point,” its leader has warned, as donors have pulled funding from the agency and Israel imposed further restrictions on its operations and called for its closure.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, the chief lifeline for Gaza’s besieged population of 2.2 million people through the Israel-Hamas war, has lost $450 million in donor funding, including from the United States, since Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s employees were involved in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack.

Absent new funding, UNRWA, the largest aid agency on the ground in Gaza, says that its reserves will be gone by March, even as aid groups warn that Gaza is on the verge of famine.

“I fear we are on the edge of a monumental disaster with grave implications for regional peace, security, and human rights,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general, wrote in a letter to the president of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.

Fewer aid trucks have entered Gaza this week than earlier in the year, when between 100 and 200 aid trucks were arriving on most days; both border crossings used for aid have frequently closed, sometimes because Israeli protesters have blocked a crossing. A total of 69 trucks entered on Tuesday and Wednesday, the agency said. It added that it is aiming for 500 per day to meet Gaza’s needs.

The International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to take immediate steps to facilitate the aid Gaza desperately needs, which UNRWA would normally play a central role in distributing. But Israeli officials have argued that its employees’ alleged links to Hamas fundamentally compromise the agency.

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