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On UNRWA, Palestine Refugees, and International Law

In the past month, some of the major donors to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced they were suspending funding to the agency over allegations that some of its employees were involved in the 7 October attacks (here, here, and here). This move came at a particularly delicate moment for UNRWA and the Palestinians in Gaza, as the current Israeli offensive has already killed more than 30,000 persons, mostly women and children, and displaced close to 90 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million population. In the words of Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner General, suspending the agency’s funding at this critical time would threaten the “ongoing humanitarian work across the region including and especially in the Gaza Strip” as over 2 million Gazans depend on UNRWA’s support for their survival. The effects of the funding shortage would also impact thousands of individuals in other parts of the region, including in the West Bank, Lebanon,…

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