The top United Nations relief official in the occupied Palestinian territory today appealed to donors to provide urgent funds to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation there, particularly in Gaza, where continued border closures in recent weeks have prevented the delivery of vital food, medicine and fuel supplies.
“This is an assault on human dignity with severe humanitarian implications,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator Maxwell Gaylard said today in Jerusalem, during the launch of the $462 million Consolidated Appeal for 2009.
“Many people, especially in the Gaza Strip, are paying a heavy price, struggling daily to have enough food and water to feed and wash their children,” he said.
The Appeal covers nearly 160 projects ranging from food, water and sanitation, to cash assistance, health care and education. It is part of the wider UN humanitarian appeal launched last week for $7 billion for urgent aid to 30 million people in 31 countries.
The funds sought will help the UN and its partners to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in parts of the West Bank where the Barrier, Israeli settlements and access restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of persons.
Similarly, continued border closures in Gaza have given rise to a rapid and significant increase in poverty and unemployment in the last year, says the UN.
The high levels of poverty and unemployment, coupled with other factors such as rising food and fuel prices and severe weather conditions, have led to increased dependency on humanitarian assistance.
“The Appeal is directed to help the most vulnerable Palestinians, especially children, single-headed households and the poorest who do not have any other resources to rely on,” said Mr. Gaylard.
“Humanitarian assistance can cushion the deteriorating humanitarian situation but it can not stop its decline,” he added.
The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that the Kerem Shalom crossing, the Karni conveyor belt, and the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines were all open today.
As a result, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was able to get 12 trucks into Gaza.
Also, despite fuel coming through for the power plant, UNSCO says spare parts are still needed – meaning that Gaza City will still be experiencing rotating power cuts of several hours.