Gaza suffers near total breakdown of law and order, UNRWA chief says

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Chaos is taking hold in Gaza as smuggling bands form and add to the difficulties in delivering aid, the head of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency said on Tuesday.

“Basically, we are confronted nowadays with a near total breakdown of law and order,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told reporters, blaming in part an increase in gangs involved in cigarette smuggling.

“It’s becoming more and more complicated (to deliver aid),” he added.

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Established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA provides services including schooling, primary healthcare and humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Earlier this year, many countries paused payments to the agency following Israel’s claims that some UNRWA staff were linked to Palestinian armed groups. Asked about funding, Lazzarini said all but two of those countries, the United States and Britain, had since resumed funding.

The agency currently has enough funding to finance operations until the end of August, he added.

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