Britain to give £19m in aid to Gaza
6 June 2010
Britain is set to award £19 million in aid for refugees in Gaza, and elsewhere in the Middle East region.
The money, to be spent on healthcare, education and other services, will be announced by International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on Sunday.
It will go to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), on which about 70 per cent of Gazans rely to meet their basic needs.
The support comes amid heightened international concern about Israel‘s blockade of Gaza after the violent confrontation on an aid ship this week.
But the money is part of a five-year £100 million funding arrangement with the UNRWA that was entered into in 2006.
Mr Mitchell, who has confirmed the latest tranche of support, reiterated the government‘s calls for Israel to allow aid into Gaza.
"The humanitarian situation in Gaza is both unacceptable and unsustainable," he said.
"The UK is committed to helping those people affected by this crisis and that is why I am today providing £19 million to help meet their most basic needs.
"There is an immediate need for unfettered access to Gaza if the humanitarian situation is to be improved, to allow the economy to get back on its feet, and to give the young people of Gaza the prospect of a better future.
"I call on the government of Israel to open the crossings to help end this humanitarian crisis."
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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