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Siege, hunger, and disease to be main killer in Gaza, warns UN agency for Palestinians

Siege, hunger, and diseases will soon become the main killer in Gaza, says commissioner- general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Philippe Lazzarini, who heads the UNRWA for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, took to X on Wednesday to vent his concern for the growing hunger and spread of diseases as a result of the Israeli siege on the besieged strip.

He said starvation and illness may soon be the main killer in Gaza.

“This fabricated and catastrophic level of hunger can still be reversed by flooding Gaza with food and life-saving assistance,” Lazzarini said.

“More than ever humanity requires political will,” the UNRWA chief added.

In a press release on March 19, UNRWA said that “famine is imminent in the Gaza Strip, especially for isolated populations in northern Gaza deprived of humanitarian aid.”

The statement noted that the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), in a latest food security outlook, concluded that up to 1.1 million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

“Nutrition screenings conducted in February by UNICEF and UNRWA show that rates of acute malnutrition among children in northern Gaza and Rafah have nearly doubled since January,” it said.

The Israeli regime has accused UNRWA staff of being involved in the October 7 attack by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas against the occupied territories, prompting a number of its western allies to suspend funding for the UN agency.

On Wednesday, an agreement was reached by US congressional leaders and the White House on a massive funding bill will continue a ban on US funding for UNRWA until March 2025, Reuters reported.

Earlier this year the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia, Japan, Austria and Romania  decided to cut their funding to the UNRWA, considered a lifeline for the Palestinians in Gaza.

France had also announced that it does not plan a new payment to fund UNRWA in the first quarter of 2024.

Condemning the suspension of funding, Lazzarini had said, “It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an agency and an entire community…, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region.”

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