Israel blocks UNRWA chief from entering Gaza, UNRWA and Egypt say

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini

© APA | United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini

# 18 March 2024 17:11 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli authorities denied permission for the head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) to enter the Gaza Strip on Monday, UNRWA and the Egyptian foreign minister said, calling it an unprecedented move, APA reports citing Reuters.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini, speaking alongside Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry at a Cairo news conference, said he had intended to go to Rafah on Monday "but I have been informed an hour ago that my entry into Rafah is declined".

Shoukry told Lazzarini: "You were declined by the Israeli government, refused the entry which is an unprecedented move for (a) representative at this high position".

UNRWA, founded in 1949, provides aid and essential services to Palestinian refugees and is the largest such provider in Gaza.

"We are engaged in a race against the clock to try to reverse the impact of the spreading hunger and the looming famine in the Gaza Strip," Lazzarini said, describing hunger in the Gaza Strip as "man-made".

The crisis could be resolved and reversed through proper political will and Gaza could be "flooded" with food through the land crossings, he added.

Lazzarini has visited the Gaza Strip four times since the Gaza war began on Oct. 7, and on numerous occasions prior to that, UNRWA communications director Juliette Touma told Reuters.

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