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UN Palestine refugee agency says 53 staffers killed in Gaza amid 'unspeakable suffering'

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published October 27,2023
(AA Photo)

UNRWA, the UN's Palestine refugee agency, said Friday that 53 staffers have been killed in the besieged Gaza Strip since Oct. 7.

The death toll marks a dramatic escalation from figures put out by UNRWA Thursday when the agency said 39 of its staff and personnel had been killed.

"These people dedicated their lives to their communities. One colleague died collecting bread. He leaves behind 6 children," the agency said on X, the website formerly known as Twitter. "We are beyond devastated, as this unspeakable suffering continues."

The grim announcement comes 20 days after Palestinian group Hamas launched a shock attack on Israel that killed over 1,400 Israelis, as over 200 more were taken back to Gaza as captives.

Israel has retaliated by imposing a "complete siege" on Gaza, and carrying out a relentless bombing campaign that has killed over 7,000 Palestinians, including more than 3,000 children, according to data from the coastal enclave's Health Ministry.

The ministry sought to push back on western criticism of its casualty figures on Thursday by releasing a detailed list of all those killed in Gaza, including their names, ages and identification numbers.

UNRWA has about 13,000 staff in Gaza with less than half -- 5,000 -- continuing to carry out their aid and relief duties amid the increasingly dire humanitarian situation.

Roughly 630,000 internally displaced Palestinians have sought refuge at 150 UNRWA facilities in Gaza, the agency said Thursday. The installations are now operating at nearly three-times their intended capacity.

UNRWA has warned it risks being unable to continue its life-saving services unless fuel shipments opposed by Israel are allowed to enter Gaza with existing stocks near complete exhaustion.

Fuel is critical to running desalination plants and pumping stations for Gaza's water supplies, operating bakeries, and ensuring the lights remain on in the occupied territory's over-burdened hospitals where the injured are receiving treatment and the displaced continue to take shelter.

"As we speak, people in #Gaza are dying. They are dying only from bombs and strikes. Soon, many more will die from the consequences of siege imposed on the Gaza Strip," UNRWA said on X.