September 13th, 2011 12:26 EST
UN: Gaza Needs Financial Help
The United Nations today renewed its appeal to donors to provide $36 million in urgently-needed funds to support emergency assistance to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
Our emergency programmes in Gaza face a critical funding situation, " said Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). We call on our donors and other stakeholders to respond to this appeal as an urgent priority. "
The $36 million is needed for programmes related to temporary employment, food assistance, school feeding, and community mental health, according to UNRWA, which is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States.
These programmes are separate from the agency`s regular education, health and relief activities, and are specifically tailored to address the most urgent humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable refugees in Gaza.
UNRWA fears that without a substantial injection of cash towards its emergency work in Gaza, food rations to hundreds of thousands of refugees, including children in UN schools, may be reduced in the coming months and community health programmes will be threatened, including psycho-social support to 25,000 children, " said Mr. Gunness.
At a ceremony today in Gaza, Germany announced it is contributing $2.8 million to UNRWA`s school feeding programme " the country`s first such contribution to that programme.
The renewed appeal for funds from UNRWA comes as the blockade imposed by Israel against Gaza since 2007, when Hamas ousted the Fatah movement in the territory, remains in place, despite repeated calls by the UN and other members of the international community.
A report issued last month by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) found that a modest relaxation of the blockade in 2010 resulted in some improvement in economic activity in Gaza, though humanitarian conditions are still dire. It noted that poverty levels in Gaza are as high as 38 per cent.
It is an unfortunate reality that until the blockade is lifted in full, allowing Gaza`s economy to recover, there will continue to be a need for international humanitarian assistance to support the people of Gaza, " Mr. Gunness stated.
UNRWA is the main provider of basic services " education, health, relief and social services " to five million registered Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory.