We Count on this Support: UNRWA Food Assistance is a Lifeline for Palestine Refugees

06 April 2022
Ibtisam feeds her daughter in their home in Beach Camp, Gaza. © 2022 UNRWA photo by Mohammed Hinnawi

“My husband passed away and left me alone with our six young children. I raised them in spite of a very strained financial situation. Now, my two older sons are university graduates and both of them are unemployed. My eleven-year-old daughter, Nour, has a disability and requires growth hormones on a daily basis,” says Ibtisam, a 48-year-old single mom living in  Beach refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

Ibtisam’s situation is indicative of the trying socio-economic circumstances of so many people in the blockaded Gaza Strip. With the unemployment rate reaching 50.2 per cent in 2021, her sons are part of the thousands of youth unable to secure employment. Those aged between 15-29 face an average unemployment rate of 71.8 per cent. Moreover, UNRWA estimates that 80 per cent of Gazans, the majority of whom are refugees, are facing major food insecurity and depend on aid and handouts to survive.

“My eldest son is married and has two children. They live with us in the same house, we both rely on food baskets provided by UNRWA. We wait for each cycle of UNRWA food distribution to receive basic foodstuff for my family,” Ibtisam notes.

“With the holy month of Ramadan here, I prepared some food recipes from the UNRWA food assistance I received. I made falafel, cheese, hummus and bread for iftar (breaking the fast) and suhoor (pre-dawn) meals,” she explains. The UNRWA emergency food assistance programme provides food to more than one million Palestine refugees in Gaza. Through this programme, families like Ibtisam’s are able to meet their basic food needs. An UNRWA food basket contains wheat flour, rice, sunflower oil, sugar, whole milk, lentils and chickpeas, and is distributed on a quarterly basis.

“The blessed month of Ramadan is the most awaited month for me and for all Muslims. Allah's mercy and generosity are showered upon us in this month. Much charitable giving is done by Muslims during Ramadan; they reach deep into their pockets and give to charities, and those in need, both openly and secretly. We didn’t have a source of income. Ramadan is our mercy; we receive some sadaqa (alms) and assistance during this holy month. We get suhoor meals from UNRWA and sadaqa from different associations and relatives,” Ibtisam says.

“I am grateful to UNRWA for this assistance, which is a lifeline for me and my family. Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims around the world,” she concludes.

This Ramadan, consider supporting Palestine refugees through the Agency’s Ramadan campaign. Your donation is zakat eligible and will put food on the table for the more than one million Palestine refugees who are welcoming the month of Ramadan after having survived the trauma and violence of last year and the continued blockade of Gaza, entering its sixteenth year. Donate here.