UNRWA: There is absolutely no safe place left in Rafah

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Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), spoke to reporters.

This came after he briefed representatives of member states at the United Nations office in Geneva on the events in the Gaza Strip, which remains under an Israeli siege and intense attacks.

Lazzarini said that the meeting lasted about two hours. “In general, we discussed the very disturbing situation in Rafah. People in Rafah feel uncomfortable and afraid because of the possible large-scale military operation.

If the military operation happens, the question is: “Civilians in Rafah”: “Where will he go? There is no safe place in Rafah anymore.”

Lazzarini stated that more than 100,000 people were killed, injured, or missing due to the conflict in Gaza, meaning that 5 percent of the population was affected within 4 months.

Lazzarini said that the allegation that 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the attacks of October 7, 2023 was also raised at the meeting, and that he explained the entire process including the termination of the contracts of these people and that an investigation into this matter had begun.

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Lazzarini stated that Israel’s allegations of the existence of a Hamas tunnel under the UNRWA building in Gaza were also raised at the meeting.

He stressed that they would need a board of inquiry after the end of the war and that UN facilities had clearly not been respected in the process.

Stressing that they also discussed calls to disband UNRWA, Lazzarini noted that these calls were a “narrow-minded” approach, and stated that the time has come to reach a general political solution after this latest disaster in Gaza.

More than 100 people were killed and hundreds injured in Israeli army attacks on Rafah. The planned ground operation has raised fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

According to the United Nations, the Israeli attacks on Gaza forced 85 percent of the region’s population to be internally displaced due to lack of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 percent of the settlement’s infrastructure was damaged.

The International Court of Justice, which accused Israel of committing genocide, indicated in its interim decision that South Africa’s allegations in the case filed in December 2023 were reasonable.