UN Agency Seeks $800 Million Aid for Palestine Refugees

From 21-24 February 2016, UNRWA distributed 19,160 thermal blankets to approximately 5,700 Palestinian refugee and other civilian families from the besieged and hard to reach Syrian communities of Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham. Photo: UNRWA
From 21-24 February 2016, UNRWA distributed 19,160 thermal blankets to approximately 5,700 Palestinian refugee and other civilian families from the besieged and hard to reach Syrian communities of Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham. Photo: UNRWA

Facing an acute funding shortage, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees is seeking more than $800 million for its emergency programmes for Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The appeal would enable the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to “continue delivering desperately needed relief to those affected by deepening emergency situations,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said at a launch event in Geneva.

“However, the Agency’s critical financial crisis following the reduction in United States funds threatens our ability to deliver these vital services,” he added.

A week ago, Mr. Krähenbühl had launched the global fundraising campaign #DignityIsPriceless.

The campaign follows the dramatic reduction of funding recently announced by the U.S. It aims to raise US$ 500 million.

[ UN Relief Agency Launches Fundraising Campaign in Gaza ]

Programmes for Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which consists of Gaza and the West Bank, require $400 million each. The appeal covers some 50,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon and Jordan.

Mr. Krähenbühl explained that the majority of Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory and from Syria “rely on UNRWA to provide aid which is literally life-saving, including food, water, shelter and medical assistance.”

Inside Syria, UNRWA is reaching over 400,000 Palestine refugees with cash assistance, one of the largest such programmes in an active conflict setting anywhere in the world.

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Despite the immense security challenges, UNRWA says it is providing education to over 47,000 Palestine refugees, supplementing regular classes with psychosocial support and safety-awareness training. For those unable to reach the classrooms, UNRWA has developed distance-learning materials.

In Gaza, with employment opportunities stifled by the decade-old blockade – the unemployment rate remains among the highest worldwide – almost one million Palestine refugees are dependent on UNRWA for emergency food assistance, a tenfold increase on the 100,000 that required such support in 2000.

Three and a half years on from the 2014 hostilities, which caused unprecedented destruction and loss of life in Gaza, thousands of Palestine refugee families remain displaced and repairs to over fifty thousand homes have yet to be completed.

According to UNRWA, the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remains fragile. Palestine refugees continue to experience difficult socioeconomic conditions rooted in occupation-related policies and practices imposed by the Israeli authorities.

In addition to continued movement and access restrictions and shelter demolitions, Palestine refugees in the West Bank experience high levels of food insecurity.

Courtesy: UN

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