UNRWA Suspends Imports into Gaza Following Aid Confiscation

06 February 2009

6 February 2009

Jerusalem

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has suspended all imports of aid into the Gaza Strip following the confiscation of hundreds of tons of food aid.

During the night of 05 Feb 10 truckloads of flour and rice were taken from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza. They had been imported from Egypt for collection by UNRWA today. The food was taken away by trucks contracted by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Two hundred metric tons of rice and one hundred metric tons of flour were taken.

UNRWA’s suspension of imports will remain in effect until the aid is returned and the Agency is given credible assurances from the Hamas government in Gaza that there will be no repeat of these thefts.

This is the second incident in 3 days. On Tuesday 03 Feb, three thousand five hundred blankets and over four hundred food parcels were taken at gun point from a distribution store in Beach Camp, Gaza. UNRWA has demanded the return of this aid as well.

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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$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

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