John Ging (born 1965) is an Irish national and former officer in the Irish Army who has served as head of the United Nation's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip since 2006. As head of the United Nation's 10,000 employee operation there, he became a sought-after commentator by the media and an information source for foreign governments during Israel's 2008-2009 offensive in Gaza.
Ging grew up one of four brothers in Portlaoise. He attended secondary school at the Salesian College in Ballinakill. In 1983, he joined the army, where he rose to the rank of captain. Along the way he earned a BA in political science and a degree in law from the National University of Ireland, Galway and subsequently qualified as a barrister. In 1994 he was seconded by the government to work with the Irish aid agency GOAL to oversee relief efforts in the wake of the Rwandan Genocide, mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to colleagues who worked with him at the time, he took on difficult jobs like arranging the mass burial of 40,000 refugees who died when cholera swept through their camp. After his time in Africa he worked for eight years as Chief of Staff for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.. Following that he had a brief stint as head of the United Nation's mission in Kosovo. He voluntarily resigned his commission in 2002 and, following his departure from Kosovo, he took up his position in Gaza.
Ging has overseen the agency's roughly $400 million budget in Gaza since February 1, 2006, responsible for development programs as well as for providing basic needs to 750,000 refugees. In 2007, he survived an assassination attempt by unidentified gunmen. He gained international prominence during the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive in Gaza as he warned of a humanitarian "catastrophe unfolding" as a consequence of the fighting and criticized Israel for firing upon UN compounds and other buildings he described as non-military. On January 9, 2009 Ging suspended UN aid work in Gaza after a UN aid convoy and a number of UN buildings were hit by Israeli fire, saying he'd "lost confidence" that aid work could continue safely. Ging ordered UN aid work to resume in Gaza after a cease-fire was established on January 18, 2009, though there were signs that Ging's operation could be hampered by intra-Palestinian disputes.