Statement on the Intensified Targeting of UNRWA

Statement on the Intensified Targeting of UNRWA


As the Israeli/American war against UNRWA intensifies during the peak of the genocide in Gaza, several civil society organisations working with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon convened to discuss the role of civil society in countering this ongoing attack on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated by UN Resolution 194. This attack is manifested through the targeting of UNRWA and the insistence on dismantling it by reducing its services and seeking alternatives.

The attendees agreed on the following points:

First: The decision to suspend aid to UNRWA by the United States and certain Western countries compliant with its policies coincided with Israel’s ongoing attempts to eliminate the refugee issue, the genocide against Gaza, and the preliminary decision of the International Court of Justice, which in its fourth clause mandated the provision of urgent services and humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza. This constitutes a blatant and immoral violation of the ICJ ruling and the obligations of these countries under international law and human rights principles. UNRWA is the primary entity qualified to provide services and prevent the deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Second: The suspension of aid to UNRWA aligns with Israel’s declared plans to completely eliminate UNRWA in post-war “day-after” arrangements, which involve stages such as filing a legal case against UNRWA, seeking alternatives, and eventually transferring its responsibilities to another international entity. The devastating impact of suspending services will have catastrophic consequences, primarily exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and affecting all Palestinian refugees in UNRWA’s areas of operation, especially in Lebanon, where Palestinian refugees have been suffering from the ongoing socio-economic crisis for years.

The civil society organisations in Lebanon emphasise the following:

  • The suspension of aid to UNRWA constitutes a violation of the International Court of Justice ruling and amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Countries that have suspended their aid to UNRWA are urged to reverse their stance and fulfil their commitments to UNRWA and the Palestinian refugees.
  • Any transfer of UNRWA’s responsibilities to other international or local entities is rejected, and there is a firm commitment to the agency and its mandate as stipulated by the UN General Assembly.
  • A local, regional, and international advocacy campaign will be launched to support UNRWA and the Palestinian refugee cause, with preparations for this campaign already underway and to be announced soon.

Palestinian Civil Society Organisations in Lebanon

Beirut, 8 February 2024