G7 says UNRWA, UN agencies must work unhindered in Gaza: Summit draft

AFP , Friday 14 Jun 2024

G7 leaders said the UN Palestinian refugee agency must be allowed to work unhindered in Gaza, in the draft of an end-of-summit statement seen by AFP Friday.

Pope Francis and leaders take part in a working session on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Energy, and
Pope Francis and leaders take part in a working session on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Energy, and Africa-Mediterranean at the Borgo Egnazia resort during the G7 Summit in Savelletri near Bari, Italy, on June 14, 2024. AFP

 

"We agree it is critical that UNRWA and other UN organisations and agencies' distribution networks be fully able to deliver aid to those who need it most, fulfilling their mandate effectively," the Group of Seven nations said.

They called for all parties to facilitate "rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need" in Gaza, particularly women and children.

"Securing full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access in all its forms -- consistent with international humanitarian law, and through all relevant land crossing points, including the Rafah crossing, through maritime delivery routes, including through Ashdod Port -- and throughout all of Gaza remains an absolute priority," they said.

UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused about a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of being involved in the October 7 attack.

That prompted many governments, including top donor the United States, to suspend funding to the agency, threatening its efforts to deliver aid in Gaza, although several have since resumed payments.

An independent review of UNRWA, led by French former foreign minister Catherine Colonna, found some "neutrality-related issues" but said Israel had yet to provide evidence for its main allegations.

In the draft statement, the G7 leaders repeated concern at the "unacceptable number of civilian casualties" in the Hamas-Israel war, now into its ninth month. They again endorse a truce and hostage release deal.

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