The Lost Generation of Gaza

Rubble in Gaza amid ongoing destruction from bombings since October 7, 2023. Rubble in Gaza amid ongoing destruction from bombings since October 7, 2023. Emad El Byed via Unsplash

The UNRWA warns an entire generation of children to be lost unless funding of the organization is found quickly.

On 24 June 2024, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, issued an urgent appeal for political and financial support. He warned that the agency is on the brink of collapse, due to the severe impacts of the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Lazzarini emphasized that without immediate funding, an entire generation of children could be lost. This plea comes after nine months of intense Israeli bombardment and ground operations in Gaza, which have placed unprecedented pressure on the agency.

Since October 7, Israel attacks on the city has killed at least 37,626 Palestinians, including more than 15,000 children, and has injured more than 86,098 people. Over 500 people seeking shelter under the United Nations (UN) flag have been killed, and 193 UNRWA personnel have lost their lives. 

The conflict has also severely damaged or destroyed more than 180 UNRWA installations. Gaza is experiencing a dire humanitarian crisis with rampant malnutrition, dehydration, and a collapse in law and order. The most vulnerable are the children, with more than 625,000 traumatized and many at risk of violence. Before the war around 300,000 children were enrolled in 290 UNRWA schools but are now at risk of  violence and exploitation. If education is not resumed urgently an entire generation will be condemned to poverty, hatred, resentment, and future conflict, Lazzarini states. The Israeli forces' attacks are not limited to Gaza and have extended to the West Bank where over 500 Palestinians have been killed since October. Israeli settlers conduct daily attacks, military incursions, and the destruction of homes and infrastructure. In addition, intensifying clashes on the Israel-Lebanon border threaten to escalate into a “full-blown war,” further contributing to the fear and anxiety among millions of Palestinian refugees across the geographical area.

In response, the international community has been urged to step up their support. The UNRWA Commissioner-General has called on Member States for immediate financial contributions, highlighting the need for $1.2 billion to meet critical humanitarian needs until the end of the year. However, as of now, the appeal is only 18% funded. The UN aid coordination office (OCHA) has reported significant challenges in delivering aid due to access restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities. Lazzarini stressed that the agency might not be operational beyond August if sufficient funding is not secured. Without intervention, the situation threatens to deteriorate further, with long-lasting impacts on the region's stability and the future of its children.

 

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by Noor Assa

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