Queen Rania joins first ladies, prominent figures to appeal for immediate ceasefire in Gaza, calls on donor community to support UNRWA’s $238 million appeal

10 January 2009

10 January 2009

Office of Her Majesty, Press Department

Istanbul

During a meeting hosted by Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah said the donor community should channel all their efforts through UNRWA to make sure that Gazans get the aid they need.

Queen Rania joined Syria‘s Asma Assad, Qatar‘s Sheikha Mozah, Lebanon‘s Wafaa Sleiman, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi‘s daughter, Aisha, the Pakistani prime minister‘s wife and other prominent figures to appeal for an end to the two-week old conflict in the Gaza Strip.

During the meeting, Queen Rania renewed her call for an immediate ceasefire. Her Majesty also commended UNRWA’s efforts saying that without them the situation in Gaza would be much worse. She re-iterated her appeal for safe passage of humanitarian personnel to and throughout the Gaza Strip.

An UNRWA spokesperson said that the situation in Gaza has been deteriorating. According to UNRWA, there has been no electricity there for the past 10 days; over 750,000 people have no access to clean water and hospitals are almost at the point where they cannot take in any more patients. Over 22,000 people have lost their homes in the past two weeks. He also warned that there is a dire food security situation and despite the small trickle of conveys bringing in aid, more is needed and the three hour ceasefire is not enough.

During the meeting, the first ladies issued a joint statement referred to as the "Istanbul appeal", where they each committed to launching campaigns in their countries to support UNRWA’s $238 million appeal for Gaza.

Queen Rania stressed that the international donor community should coordinate efforts through UNRWA because they are better able to judge the situation on the ground and assess the immediate needs of the people in Gaza.

For more information please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-240-2659
Office: +972-(0)2-589-0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-216-8295
Office: +972 (0)2-589-0724
    

Background Information

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 US$ 68.2 million.

For more information, please contact:

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