Halting funds to UN Palestinian refugee agency will be catastrophic: WHO

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Geneva, Feb 1 (IANS) The head of the WHO has warned that cutting funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would have “catastrophic consequences” for people in war-torn Gaza.

“No other entity has the capacity to deliver the scale and breadth of assistance that 2.2 million people in Gaza urgently need,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference on Wednesday in Geneva.

“Decisions by various countries to pause funds for UNRWA, the largest supplier of humanitarian aid in this crisis, will have catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza,” Tedros said.

Speaking of the situation in Gaza, he added that the WHO faces significant challenges in supporting health systems and workers there, with more than 100,000 people having restricted access to healthcare due to fierce fighting, Xinhua news agency reported.

Most hospitals in Gaza have already ceased functioning due to heavy bombardments and shortages of fuel and supplies. The Nasser Hospital in central Gaza is only minimally functional, the UN has said.

The risk of famine increases due to persistent hostilities and limited humanitarian access.

The WHO urges reconsideration of funding cuts, emphasising the urgent need for assistance, safe access to humanitarian aid, release of hostages, protection of healthcare facilities, and a ceasefire.



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