Five balloons for a shekel

20 October 2011

Since 2007, a global food crisis has put millions of people in the world’s poorest countries at risk of hunger and malnutrition.

In the occupied Palestinian territory, the poorest of the poor have been badly affected. Soaring unemployment rates and a sharp rise in the cost of living have plunged hundreds of thousands of people into abject poverty. Household poverty rates have soared to 52 per cent in Gaza and 19 per cent in the West Bank (World Bank, February 2010). In Gaza, 80 per cent of the population relies on food handouts to survive.

Meet Hussien, Ali, and Ayesh, three generations of Palestine refugees whose lives and livelihoods are perilously affected by these worrisome trends. Together, their stories inescapable hardship illustrate how critical the food and cash assistance provided by UNRWA and the European Union’s Food Facility has become.

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees in the West Bank would not survive without UNRWA’s food assistance. This assistance is made possible with the vital help of the EU’s Food Facility, a special fund created to respond to the global food crisis. For the past three years, a donation of EUR€39.7m from the EU’s Food Facility has directly supported UNRWA’s social safety-net programme — delivering food and cash four times per year to 150,000 vulnerable Palestine refugees living in abject poverty in Gaza and the West Bank.

Together, the EU and UNRWA provide relief for those hit hardest: children, young people, people with disabilities and the elderly. This means that families don’t need to take dangerous measures such as cutting down on their meals and young people don’t have to decide between working for money and getting an education.

Learn more about the EU’s Food Facility

Learn more about UNRWA’s social safety-net programme

Learn more about life in the West Bank

Learn more about life in Gaza

The European Union is the largest provider of international assistance to Palestinian refugees. Over the last decade, the EU alone has provided more than EUR€1 billion in support for UNRWA.

Since 1971, the EU has contributed annually to UNRWA‘s main programmes, helping deliver essential education services to Palestine refugees. It has also given support for special projects, management reforms, and humanitarian assistance.