France supports UNRWA Emergency Food Assistance Programme in Gaza

11 January 2023


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) welcomes the generous contribution of EUR 2 million from the Government of France in support of the Agency’s 2022 Emergency Food Assistance Programme in Gaza.

After 16 years of a land, air and sea blockade, life in Gaza has become increasingly dire. The situation has been compounded by repeated cycles of hostilities, heightened tensions and violence, political instability and the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, these factors have destabilized the lives of individuals and communities and have further increased the hardships they are facing. Gaza is on ‘life support’ with 80 per cent of the population dependent on humanitarian assistance. Currently, three out of four Gazans rely on emergency food assistance – and despite this support, the rate of food insecurity is rising.   With exceptionally high poverty and unemployment rates, an already fragile humanitarian situation threatens to deteriorate further.  

Against this background, UNRWA provided a critical humanitarian lifeline for Palestine refugees in Gaza, prioritizing food assistance to 1.14 million people. This French contribution assisted in co-funding food commodities and food baskets benefiting around 69,000 food-insecure Palestine refugees in the during 2022 food distribution rounds at a crucial time of unprecedented need.

“There is no doubt that the lives of Palestine refugees in Gaza deteriorate day after day. Sixteen years of blockade have devastated the economy. Most families in Gaza have exhausted all their financial coping mechanisms and are struggling to ‘put bread on the table’. Over 40 per cent of Gazans are now severely food-insecure which means that they are regularly going a day without food. The assistance of France is vital for ensuring families in Gaza can survive,” says Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza.

France has been a dedicated and reliable supporter and partner to UNRWA for 70 years. In addition to supporting Gaza, France also provided EUR 2 million in support of the Agency’s Emergency Appeal in 2022 to provide food assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria and Lebanon. In 2022, the Government of France increased its contribution to the UNRWA Programme Budget to EUR 23 million, supporting the education of more than half a million Palestine refugee children, health care for nearly two million refugees, and cash assistance to nearly 400,000 of the most vulnerable. This is on top of the multi-year support provided by the French Development Agency (AFD) to the UNRWA WAHET project in Lebanon of EUR 21 million in 2019.




  • The total population of Gaza is around 2.1 million, of which about 72 per cent, or 1.5 million are Palestine refugees
  • There are eight Palestine refugee camps in Gaza
  • 81.5 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, 71 per cent of whom are Palestine refugees
  • The overall unemployment rate is 46.6 per cent (48.1 per cent for refugees in camps)
  • 64.4 per cent of households in Gaza are experiencing severe or moderate food insecurity
  • UNRWA provides humanitarian assistance to 1.14 Palestine refugees in Gaza (more than half the population)
Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

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