UN relief agency launches $117 million appeal to help Palestine refugees
Responding to deteriorating conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip following 16 months of strife, closures and sanctions, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today appealed for $117 million for its emergency operations this year.
"In an environment of such political uncertainty and instability, it is our hope and expectation that the international community will respond generously to this appeal," said UNRWA Commissioner General Peter Hansen. "In so doing, the world can show its concern for those who have been injured and disabled, the families who have lost their breadwinner or their home and the children who have been traumatized by the daily violence that blights their lives."
UNRWA will use the emergency funding to provide food aid, medical care and work programmes for 1.4 million refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory.
According to the Agency, with 72 permanent Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank and 9 in Gaza, thousands of Palestinians have lost their livelihoods because of closures imposed on their communities. The destruction of agricultural crops has added to the hardship, and fully half the population is now living in acute poverty, with that figure rising to 65 per cent in Gaza.
UNRWA plans to distribute $26 million worth of food aid to 217,000 of the very poorest families in the West Bank and Gaza. An additional $55 million will be allotted to emergency work schemes. For 40,000 of the most desperate households - often those with no breadwinner - UNRWA will distribute cash, clothing and other in-kind assistance.
Responding to the violence which has claimed hundreds of lives - and injured thousands more - UNRWA will spend $4.3 million on emergency medical supplies, supporting mobile health teams for the West Bank and other badly-needed clinical services.
The Agency has also earmarked $5 million on compensatory education for 108,000 pupils, trauma counselling, university grants and other emergency educational needs.
In the Gaza Strip, over 4,500 refugees had been made homeless by the demolition of their shelters and thousands more have seen their shelters badly damaged, according to UNRWA, which plans to spend $7.6 million emergency repair and reconstruction work this year.