Gaza Residents Disappointed at Suspension of Funding to UNRWA

REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/File Photo
Palestinians receive flour bags distributed by UNRWA in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip November 21, 2023.

Cairo (Jiji Press)—Residents of the Palestinian territory of Gaza have expressed anger and disappointment over decisions by Japan and other countries to suspend their funding for a U.N. body aiding Palestinian refugees.

A resident said in a telephone interview with Jiji Press that the world wants to kill people in Gaza, and showed regret that Japan is now among over 10 countries that have announced the suspension of funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA.

Twelve UNRWA employees are suspected of being involved in Palestinian militant group Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel in October last year, and the United Nations has dismissed nine of them and is continuing its investigation into the matter.

On Jan. 26, the United States said that it would stop offering funds to UNRWA until the United Nations takes appropriate measures. Germany, Britain, Japan and other nations followed suit.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said late last month, “Two million civilians in Gaza depend on critical aid from UNRWA for daily survival, but UNRWA’s current funding will not allow it to meet all requirements to support them in February.”

A 33-year-old man who evacuated from Gaza City in northern Gaza to Rafah in southern Gaza, said that only UNRWA can deliver aid supplies to Gaza, where the humanitarian situation is catastrophic. He expressed anger over the suspension of UNRWA contributions by countries including Japan, saying that even if someone from UNRWA is involved in the October attack on Israel, the entire people in Gaza should not be punished.

Another man who lives in Rafah said that Japan had sympathy for people in Gaza and implemented many projects for the region, but that his image of Japan has changed for the worse.

Local residents would die of hunger if aid from UNRWA stops, he also said, adding that death is better.