Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini appeals for support at Emergency Summit
Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), delivered a heartfelt and urgent plea to the Joint Emergency Summit of the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Riyadh. Addressing the dire situation in Gaza, Lazzarini emphasized the need for immediate action and support from the Arab and Muslim communities.
Lazzarini painted a harrowing picture of the devastation in Gaza, revealing that over 10,000 people, predominantly women and children, have lost their lives, with many more feared buried under the rubble. He announced that UN flags will fly at half-mast worldwide to honor the 101 UNRWA colleagues killed in the conflict. The Israeli Forces' actions have forced an estimated 1.5 million individuals from northern Gaza, with over 700,000 taking refuge in UNRWA schools and shelters.
During his visit to Gaza, Lazzarini witnessed the abysmal conditions faced by the displaced, including children begging for the most necessities like bread and water. He described how schools once filled with learning and laughter have been transformed into overcrowded shelters that lack the essentials for a dignified life. The siege and continuous bombardment have caused the collapse of vital services, with shortages of food, water, medicine, and fuel.
The Commissioner-General shared personal stories from his 13,000 colleagues in Gaza, many of whom are displaced yet continue to work tirelessly to operate shelters, keep health centers open, manage mobile clinics, and deliver much-needed supplies.
Lazzarini called on the summit's attendees to recognize Gazans' desperate need for reassurance and support from their Arab and Muslim brethren. He urged a humanitarian ceasefire, adhering to international law, facilitating a continuous flow of humanitarian aid, and vocal and financial support for UNRWA. He stressed that UNRWA requires immediate funding to continue serving as a lifeline for over 2 million people in Gaza.
The Commissioner-General stood firm against false accusations aimed at undermining UNRWA's efforts and concluded with a pressing call to action for a long-term political solution and Palestinian statehood. His message was clear: the Arab and Muslim world must unite and act to alter the course of the crisis and support UNRWA's mission to provide aid and hope to those suffering in Gaza.