The population in Gaza is “dying of hunger”, denounced a senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, January 31, at a time when major donor countries announced the suspension of their aid to the agency. United Nations for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“This is a population that is starving. This is a population that is being pushed to the brink,” WHO health emergencies program director Michael Ryan told a news conference in Geneva.

UNRWA remains “the backbone of any humanitarian response in Gaza,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Wednesday, as countries including the United States and the United Kingdom suspended funding to the agency. UN agency following accusations of involvement of twelve employees in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

“I call on all Member States to guarantee the continuity of the work of UNRWA which saves lives,” further implored Antonio Guterres, who reacted last weekend to Israel’s accusations. He had defended the Palestinian refugee agency, which employs 13,000 people in the Gaza Strip and more than 30,000 in total in the region. The UN chief reiterated that “the entire humanitarian system in Gaza is collapsing.”

Independent investigation into Israeli accusations

A spokesperson for UNRWA, Tamara Alrifai, on Wednesday deemed “very important” an independent investigation into Israel’s accusations, which accuses the agency of “hiring terrorists” in the Gaza Strip.

“We received accusations from the Israeli government about twelve names in Gaza, we checked those names against our records of 13,000 employees in Gaza, and we were able to match eight of those names,” he said. she adds. UNRWA announced that it had dismissed most of the employees concerned.

In this Palestinian territory completely besieged by Israel and in the grip of a major humanitarian crisis, entire neighborhoods were destroyed by bombings which pushed 1.7 million of the 2.4 million inhabitants to flee their homes, according to the UN .