Inside UN Relief Efforts in Gaza: A recently deployed relief worker on preserving humanitarian principles amid the Israel-Hamas firestorm

Since October 7, the world's eyes have been on the Israel-Hamas conflict, but a small band of humanitarian workers have been pulled directly into the fray.  

Among them is Paul Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins University, who in late 2023 was deployed to Amman, Jordan, and Cairo, Egypt, as a strategic health advisor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). He spoke with Think Global Health in late December from the Netherlands about his personal and professional views as a person of Jewish heritage with decades of humanitarian experience in conflict zones. 

Last week, Israel accused a dozen UNRWA employees of being involved in the attacks. The agency promptly fired nine of them. Spiegel wrote afterward via email that he was "saddened and horrified" by the reports and urged the agency to "ensure that all allegations are transparently investigated, and anyone found to have participated in the attacks must be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law." 


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