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UN relief agency seeks $77 million to help Palestine refugees

UN relief agency seeks $77 million to help Palestine refugees

The principle United Nations agency providing humanitarian relief to Palestine refugees launched an appealed to donors today for $77 million needed to bring food, medical supplies and other assistance to people in the West Bank and Gaza.

The appeal by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) aims to provide 217,000 refugee families with basic food aid, and to rebuild some 200 refugee shelters that have been destroyed by shelling or bulldozing by Israeli security forces.

At the launch of the appeal in Geneva, UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said the severe decline in the Palestinian economy and the impact of the violence on the health and welfare of refugees would not be reversed quickly even if the violence ended immediately and Israel halted its policy of closures and other punitive measures in Gaza and the West Bank.

"Support to UNRWA's emergency efforts at a time of dashed hopes for a peaceful settlement sends a message of reassurance to an already anxious refugee population," writes Mr. Hansen in a foreword to the appeal, which covers the period from June to December. "It signals to them that they have not been abandoned by the international community, and therefore contributes to efforts to stabilize the situation."

The appeal itself states, "At the crossroads between peace and war, UNRWA will carry forward several initiatives aimed at responding to the ever more complex humanitarian environment in the West Bank and Gaza."