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Palestinian people holding empty bowls try to reach out for food distributed by UNRWA workers at donation point.

UNRWA, explained

UNRWA: What is it?

In the days since Israel accused employees of UNRWA of participating in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, the US and at least nine other countries have temporarily suspended funding for the UN agency, which provides humanitarian aid and social services to the roughly 6 million Palestinians classified as refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

What is the origin of UNRWA?

The United Nations Relief Works Agency was created in 1949 by the recently founded United Nations to provide humanitarian aid and economic support to the roughly 700,000 Arabs of Palestine who fled or were driven from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.

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FILE PHOTO: A truck, marked with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) logo, crosses into Egypt from Gaza, at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, during a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Rafah, Egypt, November 27, 2023.

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

A dozen countries suspend UNRWA funding over Oct.7 allegations

On Sunday, France, Austria and Japan announced they were joining the US, Germany, Canada, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and Finland in pausing their funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. At least a dozen employees of UNRWA allegedly cooperated with Hamas in planning the Oct. 7 attacks.

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UN Security Council resolution calls for Gaza humanitarian pauses
Israel's Gaza invasion: How is the EU reacting to ceasefire calls? | Europe In: 60 | GZERO Media

UN Security Council resolution calls for Gaza humanitarian pauses

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from Stockholm.

How is Europe reacting to the different calls for ceasefire in the Gaza war?

The important thing, I think, was that the UN Security Council the other day managed to get a resolution adopted. It was proposed by Malta, and it calls for a multitude of ceasefires or pauses. Not necessarily a permanent ceasefire, but clearly extended periods in which humanitarian supplies can reach Gaza, and perhaps also provide the political necessary space for release, at least of some of the hostages. We'll see if first time the Security Council has managed to agree on anything in this particular conflict, if that has any effect whatsoever.

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Members of the rescue team from the Egyptian army inspect the damaged areas, following a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hitting the country, in Derna, Libya September 13, 2023.

Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Libya’s death toll keeps rising

The death toll continues to rise in Libya, where at least 6,000 are now dead after two dams in the eastern part of the country burst due to torrential flooding. Most of the carnage is in the Mediterranean city of Derna.

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Ambassador of Russia Vassily Nebenzia at the UN

Sipa USA

Russian UN veto cuts aid deliveries to northwest Syria

Russia has voted down a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended a land border crossing needed to deliver crucial humanitarian aid from Turkey into northwestern Syria.

The Bab al-Hawa crossing is used by UN aid convoys to cross into Syria and is the main lifeline for around 4.5 million Syrians, many of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country during the brutal civil war that broke out a decade ago. (The UN says it has been providing aid to a whopping 2.7 million Syrians a month there.)

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Earthquakes expose political and humanitarian challenges in Turkey and Syria
Earthquakes expose political and humanitarian challenges in Turkey and Syria | GZERO World

Earthquakes expose political and humanitarian challenges in Turkey and Syria

In a recent episode of GZERO World, the International Rescue Committee's President and CEO, David Miliband, sheds light on the immense challenges of delivering aid in the aftermath of the deadly earthquakes that rocked Turkey and Syria. With the northwest of Syria controlled by armed opposition groups, aid delivery remains a hurdle that needs to be overcome urgently.

Miliband highlights the compounded crises in Syria, with inadequate medical care, cholera outbreaks, freezing temperatures, and ongoing border skirmishes threatening the survival of the population. He notes, "Hope is hard to find if you live there."

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Northwest Syria's aid dilemma: the aftermath of devastating earthquakes
Aid delivery remains a challenge in northwest Syria | GZERO World

Northwest Syria's aid dilemma: the aftermath of devastating earthquakes

The two devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey near the Syrian border on February 6 have exacerbated the already-difficult challenge of getting humanitarian aid into a region plagued by conflict and political instability. In an interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, explains how aid delivery remains a challenge in northwest Syria, which is controlled by armed opposition group.

Although two new cross-border points opened after the earthquake, the IRC hasn't seen an increase in aid flows.“It's still very tough to get aid across the border," says Miliband. Humanitarian assistance for northwest Syria needs to travel across the border with Turkey because aid sent directly to Damascus stays with President Bashar al-Assad's government. Miliband notes that the situation was already dire in the region before the earthquakes, and the disaster has only compounded the crisis in Syria, with a lack of adequate medical care, cholera outbreaks, and freezing temperatures posing major risks to the population.

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What obligations do rich nations have when it comes to refugees?
What obligations do rich nations have when it comes to refugees? | GZERO World

What obligations do rich nations have when it comes to refugees?

The recent tragedy of the migrant boat that sunk off the coast of Italy and killed 64 people raises an important question: are European leaders taking the right approach to prevent migrants from risking their lives in the first place? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer and David Miliband, the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, discuss the complex and urgent nature of the migrant crisis and the need for effective solutions.

Miliband notes that migration is not just a European issue but a global one, with people “on the move more than ever before” due to persecution, war, and disaster. He emphasizes the need to “balance fairness with humanity” and “fulfill legal as well as moral obligations for people who have been driven from their homes.”

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