UNRWA reports ongoing damage to shelters and schools in Gaza Strip, urges humanitarian ceasefire

AMMAN — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) issued a press release, reporting the continued damage to shelters and schools in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. In the past 24 hours alone, four UNRWA shelters have been damaged, causing loss of life and injuries.

The latest incident occurred at the Jabalia Refugee Camp, the largest in the Gaza Strip, where a school-turned shelter was severely damaged. Tragically, at least 20 people were killed, and five others were injured in the attack. This horrifying incident follows two days of heavy bombardments in the area. In addition, another school at the Beach Refugee Camp in the north of the Gaza Strip was also damaged, resulting in the reported death of a child.

Further south, in the Al Bureij Refugee Camp, two schools-turned-shelters were hit, resulting in the reported deaths of two people and injuries to 31 others. These UNRWA facilities collectively housed nearly 20,000 individuals, highlighting the critical role they play in providing refuge for those affected by the ongoing conflict.

UNRWA emphasizes that under international humanitarian law, civilians, and civilian facilities must be protected. These shelters are meant to be safe havens, flying the flag of the United Nations, providing refuge for the displaced and vulnerable.

The conflict has also claimed the lives of 72 members of UNRWA colleagues, many of them with their families.

UNRWA issued a renewed plea for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The call comes as Israeli airstrikes target press offices within the region, further intensifying the humanitarian crisis.

With a significant number of civilian casualties and mounting challenges in delivering essential aid to Gaza, UNRWA emphasized the critical necessity of an immediate ceasefire. Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, warned of the likelihood of more casualties unless the fighting ceases. Lazzarini also highlighted the inadequacy of current humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip and urgently requested the delivery of fuel to address pressing needs.

Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Ghebreyesus raised concerns about the forced evacuation of hospitals in Gaza. He emphasized the inherent risk this poses to hundreds of patients as orders have been issued for 23 hospitals to evacuate due to ongoing bombings and the siege.