The United Nations agency entrusted with assisting millions of Palestinian refugees has launched its 2010 appeal for over $323 million at a meeting of the 22-member League of Arab States in Cairo, with a focus on those people in Gaza and the West Bank who have been hit hardest by Israel’s closures and access restrictions.
“The past 12 months have seen an intensification of the crisis in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territory], with lives and livelihoods ravaged by a combination of Israeli-imposed restrictions on access and movement and persistent conflict,” UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a news release.
“The year began with Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, which resulted in death and destruction on a massive scale. The humanitarian crisis in the Strip was compounded by the ongoing siege on Gaza’s borders. This blockade has had devastating consequences on all aspects of life for the 1.4 million people trapped in Gaza,” it added, stressing that residents continue to suffer severe shortages of basic goods and materials needed to rebuild their lives, communities and economy.
The appeal forms part of the larger $664-million 2010 Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) launched last week to fund 236 projects carried out or implemented by UN agencies and partner organizations in the areas of food security, agriculture, protection, education and health, among others.
“The past 12 months have also witnessed further fragmentation of West Bank territory and segregation of the Palestinian population that has gone hand in hand with the illegal consolidation and expansion of Israeli settlements,” UNRWA said. “For many Palestinians in the West Bank, access to economic resources and basic services continues to be severely restricted, and opportunities for sustainable growth and development limited.”
Palestinian refugees, who account for around 40 per cent of the total population of the oPt and more than two thirds in Gaza, continue to suffer the worst impacts of the crisis, it added, stressing that they endure higher levels of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity than non-refugees.
UNRWA will use its funds for a range of programmes including job creation, education, emergency health, and personal and community mental health.
“With this appeal, UNRWA will undertake a combination of direct humanitarian relief and protection activities, to help ensure security for the most vulnerable communities and individuals in the territory,” Agency Commissioner-General, Karen AbuZayd said in launching the appeal yesterday.