17 August 2009
As the Holy Ramadan approaches, it is both regretful and shameful that Gaza’s refugees continue to live in intolerable circumstances. Seven months after the Israeli Operation Cast Lead and three years into a stifling siege, life for the 1 million refugees in Gaza – 70% of the population - is characterized by chronic unemployment, infrequent access to power and water, health hazards stemming from inadequate sewage system, and sub-standard housing with thousands living in tents or the rubble of their former homes, dispossessed of all earthly belongings.
Reconstruction has proven to be a mirage. Of the billions pledged for reconstruction not one penny has reached Gaza. The ban placed by the Israelis on the entry of construction materials for all but a tiny fraction of needs has stymied any large scale reconstruction, and severely hampered even modest repairs to housing, schools, factories and roads. Only a fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars which was raised in public campaigns during the war has reached the refugees. The largest Arab donation to date has been the generous contribution of $34 million from His Highness the Amir of Kuwait.
As winter approaches, many refugees are facing the very real possibility of enduring the harsh, rainy months without proper shelters, with no financial means to buy vegetables, hygiene products, clothes and diapers for their children, or meat for their families on Eid. As a result of the blockade, refugees are increasingly reliant upon the assistance provided by UNRWA to sustain them from day to day.
Although UNRWA’s flash relief programmes kept Gaza from total collapse in the immediate aftermath of the December-January Israeli attack on Gaza, the humanitarian situation remains precarious. Funds donated to UNRWA earlier in the year have been largely exhausted and on this eve of Ramadan UNRWA is compelled to appeal for fresh funds to allow it to continue to support refugees moving forward into the winter season.
In an attempt to restore a minimum standard of dignity to Gaza’s refugees in this Holy Month, UNRWA launches its Gaza Ramadan Appeal for $181 million to provide food assistance, job creation opportunities, and cash assistance for the poorest of the poor to help them repair their houses with the limited building supplies available despite the blockade, and to help them with rent and other vital necessities in the interim. Other urgent needs at this defining moment are rehabilitation of UNRWA education and health facilities, aimed at the most vulnerable refugee groups including children and the sick.
Contributions of food and cash to buy Ramadan meals are welcome. UNRWA is grateful for contributions which are on the way from the UAE and from Kuwait Red Crescent. This appeal however covers requirements not just in Ramadan but through until the end of the year, and not just food.
On behalf of the 1 million refugees, UNRWA appeals to the generosity of all donors, especially those in Arab countries, to urgently respond to the needs of a besieged and beleaguered population. Contributions made to the Gaza Ramadan Appeal will provide practical support today, guaranteeing food supplies, cash, and job opportunities to thousands of refugees seeking a dignified existence. Donors to this Appeal will also contribute to child refugees having decent schools, and families – especially mothers and babies – having adequate health care facilities.
A generous response to this appeal will immediately mitigate the downward spiral of destitution and hopelessness facing many refugees as Ramadan approaches. However, this destitution and hopelessness can, and will only be, curtailed by lifting the siege on Gaza, opening borders in both directions, and allowing the freedom of movement of people.
For more Information please call
Jamal Hamad on +972-(0)599416877, 2887213
Or Adnan Abu Hasna on +972-(0)599428061, 2887531
Download UNRWA’s Ramadan Appeal (PDF)