UNRWA launches Flash Appeal as the military operation continues in Gaza

31 December 2008

31 December 2008

Jerusalem/Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has launched an appeal for US$ 34 million as the needs of the population of Gaza continue to mount in the face of the ongoing military operation. This Appeal is in addition to UNRWA’s US$ 275 million 2009 Emergency Appeal issued earlier this month for the occupied Palestinian territory.

Speaking from the Agency’s Headquarters in Gaza, UNRWA Commissioner General, Karen AbuZayd said "In my eight years in UNRWA, the urgency of an appeal for the people here has never been so acute. I am appalled and saddened when I see the suffering around me.  This appeal covers life-saving humanitarian requirements for a four month period.  I call on the international community to respond with the promptness and generosity demanded by the desperate situation in Gaza today".

The Flash Appeal will enable UNRWA to provide essential health supplies, food, cash assistance, materials for housing repair and fuel.  These were already in short supply owing to the months of closure of Gaza’s borders and are now critically scarce.  At a time when winter has set in, this Appeal will also allow UNRWA to respond to the growing shelter needs of an increasing number of Palestinian civilians displaced by damage to or destruction of their homes.  Air strikes have inflicted considerable damage to already fragile public infrastructure and erased Gaza’s public service capacity, thus making UNRWA’s humanitarian interventions more crucial then ever.

"Tomorrow, we will resume our food distributions which were suspended on 18th December", said AbuZayd. "People are without the most basic food commodities and have suffered enough.  If we are to meet the needs of our beneficiaries, who comprise about two thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, the crossings must be open on a permanent basis, including the Karni Crossing which is the only access point through which we can bring in wheat in adequate quantities to meet the requirements of people here."

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For more information please contact:

Chris Gunness on 054-240-2659
Sami Mshasha +0972542168295

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:

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