UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe LazzariniREUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations agency for “Palestinian refugees”, UNRWA, warned on Monday that "without additional funding, we will be in uncharted territory with serious implications for global peace and security."

Speaking before the UN General Assembly, the UNRWA chief warned that the agency was "functioning hand-to-mouth" after 16 countries paused a total of $450 million in funding, soon after Israel said that 12 UNRWA staff had taken part in Hamas’ October 7 attack.

"The fate of the agency, and the millions of people who depend on it, hang in the balance," Lazzarini stated, describing UNRWA as "the backbone of humanitarian assistance in Gaza."

His comments came after Israel published two recordings incriminating two UNRWA teachers who took part in the October 7 massacre.

Lazzarini did not comment on Monday’s findings by Israel, but warned of what he called "a deliberate and concerted campaign" aimed at ending UNRWA’s work.

He called out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for "openly stating that UNRWA will not be part of post-war Gaza."

"UNRWA is facing a deliberate and concerted campaign to undermine its operations, and ultimately end them," added Lazzarini.

"The implementation of this plan is already underway with the destruction of our infrastructure across the Gaza Strip," he continued. "Dismantling UNRWA is short sighted. By doing so, we will sacrifice an entire generation of children, sowing the seeds of hatred, resentment, and future conflict."

Lazzarini has resisted Israel’s calls for him to step down, has insisted he had no knowledge of how deep Hamas is involved in UNRWA, and has instead continued to level accusations at Israel.