ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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UN chief says it won’t be possible to replace UNRWA: ‘No other group has meaningful presence in Gaza’

Palestinian men and children gather for a demonstration in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 30, 2024, calling for continued international support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. (AFP)
Palestinian men and children gather for a demonstration in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 30, 2024, calling for continued international support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. (AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns that his organization’s Palestinian refugee agency cannot be replaced, even as it faces criticism after 12 staffers were implicated in Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught on Israel.

“No other organization has a meaningful presence inside Gaza — and nothing compared with this situation. So there is no other organization that would be able now to replace” it, Guterres tells a media briefing.

UNRWA says it has acted promptly over allegations by Israel — which Guterres called “credible” — that 12 of its staff were involved in the Hamas attacks, adding that cuts in funding would affect ordinary Palestinians.

Guterres pointed to the cost-effectiveness of UNRWA as he defended why it was the best-placed organization to continue to deliver aid to Gaza.

“The costs with UNRWA are much lower than the costs with other agencies for historical reasons. The salaries paid by UNRWA are one-third of the salaries paid by UNICEF or WFP or other UN organizations,” Guterres says, singling out the UN’s children’s fund and its World Food Program.

“So any attempt of replacement, that is not possible.”

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