19 January 2010
Yesterday saw the English-language launch of the 2010 Emergency Appeal of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), at a meeting in East Jerusalem of representatives of the Agency and its major donors. The appeal event, hosted by Director of West Bank operations Barbara Shenstone and Deputy Director of operations in the Gaza Strip, Sebastien Trives, came a year and a day after the conclusion of Israel’s war on Gaza. Donors yesterday heard how the humanitarian situation in the besieged Strip remained characterized by unemployment, food insecurity and socio-economic decline.
Shenstone also took the opportunity to speak about the circumstances of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, where the fragmentation of land, geographical restrictions on freedom of movement and limited access to employment and public services are redoubled by the problem of economic and social marginalization.
In 2010, she added, the Agency would make humanitarian interventions in the West Bank to alleviate the negative effects of those conditions on the Palestine refugees. The Agency would be working to pressure the international community to resolve the long-standing conflict resolution, lift the siege on Gaza and support UNRWA in its efforts to enable human development for Palestine refugees. The Agency’s work in the West Bank would include the provison of food aid and employment opportunities, and the delivery of essential services and emergency cash assistance to families living in poverty or facing severe difficulties. The Agency’s work in the area of protection would expand to include marginalized groups such as young people, nomadic communities, women and people with special educational needs.
The Agency will also work to address the psychological impact of violence, closures and difficult living conditions, as well as providing mobile field services for communities and isolated populations at risk of displacement in the West Bank, Shenstone said.
Speaking about the social conditions and economic, psychological and infrastructure-related effects had on the population of Gaza after last year’s war, Sebastien Trives, pointed out that more than two-thirds of the victims of the Israeli assault were women and children, and that destruction of public and private property was widespread. Trives urged the international community to end the siege imposed on Gaza.
UNRWA’s activities aim to alleviate the effects of poverty and unemployment in the Strip, said Trives, providing food, emergency employment opportunities, and targeted assistance to reach the poorest of the poor. The Agency would work urgently to help those who destroyed their homes because of war, he said, but the blockade imposed on Gaza severely hampers the Agency‘s reconstruction effort. Nonetheless, UNRWA would continue to provide basic services including health, education, and would again hold the annual summer games for Gazan children, which aim to alleviate the psychological trauma suffered by many young people.
UNRWA provides assistance and protection to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. It does so by offering to a population of some 4.7 million refugees a range of human development and humanitarian services in primary and vocational education, primary health care, social safety-net, community support, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response, including in situations of armed conflict. UNRWA’s role also encompasses advocacy and actions to address the human rights and protection needs of Palestine refugees.
UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states. The Agency’s core budget for 2010 and 2011 stands at US$1.23 billion.
The Agency‘s 2010 emergency appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory amounts to US$73,049,589 for the West Bank and US$249,587,143 for the Gaza Strip.
Download the Emergency Appeal 2010 (PDF)