Israel’s highest-rating TV news network, Channel Two, has retracted false and damaging allegations that an UNRWA ambulance was used to transport militants in Gaza on the night of 19 July 2014. The false report by Channel Two’s military affairs correspondent was pulled after UNRWA presented incontrovertible evidence that the allegation was baseless.
“There are many false reports circulating about UNRWA right now. This is another regrettable example in that long catalogue of sloppy journalism”, said UNRWA Spokesman, Chris Gunness. “The constant repetition of baseless allegations about the UN allows false mythologies to take root. I encourage members of the public to treat them with the suspicion they deserve and I call on all journalists to check with us first before damaging the credibility of their organisations.”
In October 2012, Israel Channel Two News was forced to publish a similar retraction following false claims about UNRWA’s neutrality record.
“UNRWA is working under incredible pressure right now in Gaza providing assistance to tens of thousands of people displaced by the fighting. Even during this extraordinarily difficult situation, we do our utmost to maintain the highest standards of neutrality for our staff, our property and in our installations”, Gunness concluded.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 69 million.
For the past twelve years, a long shadow has been cast over occupied Palestine. It is an ever-growing shadow, consuming lands and livelihoods as it slices through cities and villages, boxing an indigenous population into tiny bantustans as it encompasses more and more terrain, forming the backbone of a settler-colonial project.
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