Statement on the Increase in the Frequency of UNRWA Targeting

Statement on the Increase in the Frequency of UNRWA Targeting

With the increasing ferocity of the Israeli/American war on UNRWA, at the height of the genocidal war on Gaza, a number of civil society organizations working among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have come together to deliberate on the role of civil society in confronting this extended attack on the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties from which they were displaced in accordance with Resolution 194, by targeting UNRWA, and insisting on dismantling it by reducing its services and searching for alternatives.

The meeting unanimously agreed on the following:

First: The decision to suspend aid to UNRWA by the United States of America and some Western countries who submit to US policy was accompanied by the continuation of Israel›s attempts to liquidate the Palestinian refugee issue, and by the continuation of its genocidal war against the Gaza Strip. It was also immediately preceded by the preliminary decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which ruled in its fourth article to ensure the provision of urgent services and humanitarian assistance to the population of the Gaza Strip. This is a clear, flagrant and immoral violation of the ICJ’s decision and the duties of those countries, based on the principles of international law and the human rights system, since UNRWA is the primary competent entity to provide services and prevent the deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Second: The decision to suspend UNRWA funding was consistent with Israel›s stated plans and intentions to exclude UNRWA completely from the so-called «next day» post-war arrangements, which are based on the following phases: filing a legal case against UNRWA, searching for an alternative, and then working to transfer UNRWA’s mandate to another international body. The devastating effects of the decision to suspend services will have catastrophic repercussions, first and foremost, on the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and on the general Palestinian refugee population in UNRWA›s areas of operation, especially in Lebanon, where Palestinian refugees are suffering from the repercussions of the protracted multi-year socio-economic crisis in the country.

For this reason, civil society organizations in Lebanon emphasize the following:

• The suspension of UNRWA funding violates the decision of the International Court of Justice and amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
• Calls on donor countries that have suspended their funding for UNRWA to retract their decision and to fulfill their obligations towards the Agency and towards Palestinian refugees.
• Affirms its rejection of the transfer of all or some of the functions and powers of UNRWA to any other international or local institution, and affirms its adherence to the Agency and its mandate as stipulated in the resolution establishing UNRWA at the United Nations General Assembly.
• Announces the preparation for a local, regional and international advocacy campaign to uphold UNRWA and the Palestinian refugee cause, which will be launched and announced at the earliest time possible.

Palestinian NGOs in Lebanon

Beirut, 8 / 2 / 2024