Saudi Committee steps forward with USD 5 million in food aid for Gaza

21 June 2012

19 June 2012
Dead Sea, Jordan

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Campaign for the Relief of the Palestinian People of Gaza, a nationwide humanitarian effort launched by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2009, has contributed USD 5 million for essential food needs of some of the poorest Palestine refugee families in the Gaza Strip, through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). An agreement to this effect was signed on Tuesday between Mr. Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, and Mr. Mubarak Al Bakr, Executive Director of the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People, in the margins of the UNRWA Advisory Commission meeting at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

The donation will help vulnerable families in desperate need of food assistance under the Agency’s social safety-net programme. The programme provides the poorest refugee families with food assistance, including baskets of essential commodities such as flour, rice, oil, sugar and milk to support them in meeting their basic nutritional needs and to overcome poverty.

As a result of what is now five years of tight access restrictions and blockade, much of the population of the Gaza Strip remains unemployed, poor, and dependent on aid. The majority of Gazans must turn to international agencies for help meeting their basic needs, with 68 per cent of the refugee population receiving food aid from UNRWA. Providing this support continues to be among the Agency‘s priority interventions in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General, expressed warm thanks to Saudi Arabia for this contribution: "HRH Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz – God rest his soul - was the Supervisor General of the Saudi Committee, which administers the Custodian’s Campaign. He was a remarkable supporter of Palestine refugees and of UNRWA. In recognition of His Royal Highness’ outstanding humanitarian endeavours, the Agency would be honoured to name this fund The Prince Nayef Fund for Feeding the Poorest in Gaza. The Agency is deeply grateful for this new fund and for all the other generous support provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The continued access restrictions in Gaza have meant that 800,000 people are dependent on our food programmes. As long as this situation continues, UNRWA will be forced to continue to seek donations such as this generous contribution from Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudi Committee is an important partner to UNRWA in its food programmes, particularly in Gaza. Last year, Saudi Committee support to UNRWA totalled USD 1.6 million, of which USD 835,000 went towards supporting poor refugee families in Gaza with food.

- Ends -

Background information:

In January 2009, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Campaign for the Relief of the Palestinian People of Gaza, a nationwide effort coordinated by a number of entities, including representatives of the provincial governments, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and a number of other departments. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz initiated the fund with a donation of USD 8 million. The Campaign is part of a broader humanitarian effort by the Kingdom to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza.

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, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

Jomana El-Atwani
Mobile: +962 776760064
j.el-atwani@unrwa.org

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

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$ 69 million.

For more information, please contact:

Gaza Emergency 1
US$ 30 GIVES COUNSELLING TO A TRAUMATISED CHILD