Philippe Lazzarini was speaking at an emergency summit convened by the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, where he called for urgent support for civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory on three fronts.
He called on leaders at the Arab-Islamic summit to “act now to change the trajectory” of the crisis that began with the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks.
According to media reports, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in his opening speech, called for an immediate end to Israeli military operations in Gaza and the release of all hostages and prisoners held by all parties to the conflict.
The ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in Gaza underlines the failure of the international community and the UN security Council put an end to Israel’s “blatant violations of international humanitarian law,” he said, adding that the Palestinians were victims of double standards.
“Dehumanized and abandoned”
THE UNRWA The leader told ministers from the Islamic world gathered in the Saudi capital that Gazans “feel dehumanized and abandoned,” yearning for reassurance that their plight is recognized by “Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters.”
He said that beyond Gaza, the West Bank is also at a “boiling point” while the border between Lebanon and Israel is “bubbling with tension.”
Mr. Lazzarini highlighted the desperation he himself saw in Gaza last week: “Every little girl and boy I met in an UNRWA shelter asked me for bread and ‘water. Children were learning and laughing at the school I visited.
“Today, school is an overcrowded refuge that does not meet the minimum standards necessary for a dignified life. »
He lamented the loss of 101 UNRWA colleagues during the Israeli bombings, noting that UN flags will be flown at half-mast around the world on Monday to honor them.
The ceasefire is essential
UNRWA chief says his first urgent request for support is to reach agreement humanitarian ceasefire “in strict compliance with international humanitarian law”, which would prevent further loss of civilian life, particularly in United Nations facilities and hospitals.
“I am sure many of you can influence action on the ground. No effort should be spared,” he said at the summit.
Secondly, he said that there must be a significant and continuous flow of humanitarian aid which can respond to “the immense humanitarian needs”.
Third, he said UNRWA urgently needed funds and strong advocates from the Arab and African Islamic world.
“UNRWA is not only the largest UN agency in Gaza, but also the last lifeline for 2.2 million people,” he said. “We can offer much more if we can afford it.”
Finally, he called on leaders to “firmly defend the agency against false and insidious claims that its schools teach hatred or that it has failed Gaza’s civilians.” These accusations come from those who want us to fail.”
“We need to take a step back”
A lasting political solution, he said, is the only way to prevent future cycles of violence:
“A real prospect of a Palestinian state is essential. »
“We must pull ourselves back from the brink before it is too late. I urge you, members of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to act now to change the trajectory of this crisis.