UN food agency launches emergency effort to aid half a million Palestinians
Warning that thousands of Palestinians were no longer able to afford basic needs, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched an emergency operation to help feed about half a million non-refugees living amid dramatically deteriorating conditions in the Palestinian Territories.
"Hunger and malnutrition are rapidly increasing among the Palestinians," said WFP Regional Director Khaled Adly. "Even when food is available in some of the markets, many impoverished Palestinians have become increasingly unable to meet all their food needs."
The Rome-based UN agency which said it hopes to provide about 70,000 tons of food to help the most needy Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip until the end of the year, currently had about 29,000 tons available for the eight-month programme. With the 41,000-ton deficit estimated to cost about $18 million, WFP has appealed for funds to cover the shortage.
WFP voiced particular concern about some 360,000 extremely poor Palestinians, 60 per cent of whom belong to families where the breadwinner is a single mother, elderly, handicapped or chronically ill. The UN agency’s assistance will also go to help about 130,000 people who have lost their income as one or more members of the family lost their jobs in Israel due to security measures.
Moreover, many hospitals and other social institutions have become unable to meet all the food needs of poor Palestinians using their services, WFP said, noting that it will provide food aid to about 10,000 people in these institutions, including children, anaemic women and the elderly.
Even before the current crisis, many needy Palestinians had been dependent on special assistance provided by both the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Social Affairs and WFP.
"Over the past three months, the Palestinian Authority has been unable to ensure the payment of the monthly cash assistance to these vulnerable people, leaving WFP as their main lifeline," Mr. Adly said, voicing concern over restriction on access to some of these communities.