Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Margot Ellis today said effects of the war still persist in West Bank and Gaza and the humanitarian needs of the women, men and children of Gaza remain widespread and acute.
In 2009, Israel waged a fierce three-week military campaign in Gaza to stop rockets from being fired on its southern communities. Israel engaged a devastating air and ground campaign that left as many as 1,400 Palestinians dead by the time a cease-fire was unilaterally declared by both sides. Much of the region’s civil infrastructure and many homes were left in ruins during the three-week offensive that ended in January 2009. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.
UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan
“Lifestyle” diseases are taking an increasing toll among the Palestinians because of poverty, unemployment and budget limitations.
Sanitation and clean water services were also maintained in 2010, “notwithstanding difficulties faced in particular due to the closure regime and conflict in the occupied territories.”
The per-person budget has been roughly the same since 2008. The refugee population increased from 4.8 million in 2009 to 5 million in 2010. Almost 2 million live in the occupied Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank. The remainder are spread among Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
To address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians, the United Nations has launched an emergency appeal for Gaza and the West Bank worth just over 300 million US dollars.
The $300 million appeal aims to assist Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank who still in need of humanitarian assistance.
The appeal focuses on three strategic priorities – food security, protection and emergency response capability. Eighty per cent of the requested funds will be used to promote food security through food assistance, cash assistance and job creation programmes.
A sizeable portion of the appeal also aims to protect the rights of refugees and improve their access to basic emergency health, water, sanitation, education, and temporary shelter.
UNRWA noted that while this is a sizeable amount and reflects good progress, dozens more schools and thousands of homes still need to be built. It welcomed the steps made by the Israeli authorities in approving projects, while stressing the need to step up the pace of reconstruction.
“Three years on, UNRWA calls on the international community to work with the relevant parties to ease further the restrictions, give swifter approval for more projects and put an end to the blockade.” -UNRWA
UNRWA is the only UN agency directly providing essential services in education, health, microfinance and social safety-net support to Palestinian refugees.