Gaza (QNN) – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) expressed real concern, on Monday, that unless it secures at least an additional $60 million by June, its ability to continue providing food to more than one million Palestinian refugees in Gaza will be severely challenged.
UNRWA said in a statement, “At a time when Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan, often characterized by the festive nature of its Iftars, in Gaza, more than half the population depends on food aid from the international community.”
The statement stressed that unless UNRWA secures “at least an additional $60 million by June, their ability to continue providing food to more than one million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, including some 620,000 abject poor – those who cannot cover their basic food needs and who have to survive on $1.6 per day – and nearly 390,000 absolute poor – those who survive on about $3.5 per day – will be severely challenged.”
UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. From fewer than 80,000 Palestine refugees receiving UNRWA social assistance in Gaza in the year 2000, there are today over one million people who need emergency food assistance without which they cannot get through their day.
Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, said “This is a near ten-fold increase caused by the blockade that lead to the closure of Gaza and its disastrous impact on the local economy, the successive conflicts that razed entire neighborhoods and public infrastructure to the ground, and the ongoing internal Palestinian political crisis that started in 2007 with the arrival of Hamas to power in Gaza.”
A report issued by the United Nations in 2017 warned that the Gaza Strip would be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
Today, with over 53% unemployment rate among Gaza’s population and with more than one million people dependent on quarterly UNRWA food handouts, it is mostly preventive humanitarian action of UN agencies, including UNRWA, and remittances from abroad that have held Gaza back from the brink of total collapse.
Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the United Nations founded UNWRA, to help resettle nearly 700,000 Palestinians after the Arab-Israeli war; UNRWA says that there are 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in the world.
UNRWA currently provides services to some 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the occupied Palestinian territories, and the besieged Gaza Strip.