14 February 2013
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) launched today an emergency appeal of just over USD 300 million to support some of the most disadvantaged Palestinians in the Middle East; those living in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The largest component of the Agency's Emergency Appeal for 2013 is USD 78 million to provide food assistance to nearly 750,000 impoverished beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip, now in its sixth year of blockade. The appeal also supports temporary job creation and cash assistance programmes.
Read a summary of the appeal:
At a launch event in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner-General Margot Ellis said: “As political leaders and donors are called upon to respond to new disasters around the globe, the man-made humanitarian crisis right here in Gaza and the West Bank remains and intensifies with no sign of abating after more than six decades.”
Ms. Ellis continued: “Funding shortfalls for essential, fundamental services in the occupied Palestinian territory have become a reality despite the growing basic needs of Palestinians—particularly Palestine refugees—with no resolution to the conflict in sight.”
Director of UNRWA’s Relief and Social Services programme Martha Myers told journalists: “Palestinians have moved from living in a second world country over the past 30 years to living in a third world country in Gaza and outside of the bubble of Ramallah in the West Bank. The descent continues unabated, with the ability of Palestinians to produce and innovate stifled by the blockade; ruining lives, undermining an entire society and the hope for political harmony, and debilitating the chances of a positive outcome.”
UNRWA’s directors in Gaza and the West Bank both spoke of the urgency of the Appeal. “For many of our beneficiaries, UNRWA is the first port of call for assistance, so this aid is urgently needed,” said Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza Robert Turner.
West Bank Director of UNRWA Operations Felipe Sanchez said: “In the West Bank, we are witnessing an increased number of demolitions and settler-violence incidents that often lead to dispossession and forced displacement, largely impacting the refugees. As a result, continued humanitarian funding is required.”
UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal will also fund community mental health programmes, emergency health interventions, and water and sanitation initiatives in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Agency’s 2012 Emergency Appeal was only half-funded by the donor community. This has a debilitating effect on increasingly desperate communities. The Agency is nonetheless grateful to those donors who did fund last year’s Appeal. UNRWA’s emergency work is having a positive impact on the lives of some 700,000 Palestine refugees.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently, the deficit stands at USD 66 million.
For interview requests with Margot Ellis, Martha Myers, Robert Turner and Felipe Sanchez, or for further information please contact:
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
Adnan Abu Hasna
UNRWA Media advisor
Mobile: +972 (0)599428061
Office: +972 (0)8 288 7531