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Gaza: EU and UNRWA support Palestine refugees with cash and shelter repairs
The European Union (EU) has contributed EUR 5 million for humanitarian aid and early recovery in the Gaza Strip in support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the wake of hostilities in May 2021.
This contribution will help to support Palestine refugee families directly impacted by the hostilities. UNRWA will provide an estimated 10,000 vulnerable families whose homes sustained damages with a one-off cash grant of NIS 800 (equivalent to EUR 210) each. The families will be able to freely choose how to use the cash assistance to alleviate their most pressing needs.
"Since the May escalation of conflict, humanitarian needs are at an all-time high in the Gaza Strip where the population has also suffered the impact of coronavirus and related restrictions on top of the blockade. Cash assistance is a way for the EU to help the families directly affected by the violence with the dignity they deserve,” said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillipe Lazzarini welcomed the contribution and said: “Palestine refugees in Gaza need our continued support to rebuild their lives. This contribution enables the most vulnerable families to offset the costs of damages from the conflict they just survived. We thank the EU for its invaluable partnership.”
The EU Humanitarian Aid contribution will also allow for repairs to damaged shelters of about 1,000 families through conditional cash transfers. Priority will be given to families who are most vulnerable in terms of recovery potential such as households headed by women, elderly persons, or adolescents, but also large families or families with disabled individuals.
“While Palestine refugees are still suffering from the sequences of the blockade that impacted all aspects of their lives, they face the burden of rebuilding their homes and struggling to get back to their normal lives after the last round of hostilities. The EU support will enable UNRWA to help the most impacted families with their immediate needs. Activities will cover the immediate emergency support through one-off multi-sectoral cash transfer and shelter repair cash assistance. I believe that this would help Palestine refugee families to retrieve normal living conditions to their damaged shelters as soon as possible," said Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza.
Of the two million Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip, some 70 per cent are refugees dependent on UNRWA for humanitarian assistance. The long-standing blockade has pushed large segments of the population below the poverty line. During the last 11-day round of hostilities, Palestine refugees found themselves combating the COVID-19 pandemic, a fragile economy, internal separation, uncertainty, and a lack of any future perspective on an end to the blockade.
The EU has a long-standing commitment to UNRWA and has provided over EUR 50 million since 2011 in support of humanitarian needs for Palestine refugees living in the Gaza Strip.
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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency's area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them 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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