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UNRWA calls for unimpeded passage of all vital goods, including fuel for electricity, into Gaza
Against the background of 14 years of an illegal blockade and the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza is extremely concerned about the closure of Gaza’s lone power plant since last Tuesday, 18 August.
The closure of the power plant has caused the power feed to decline to two to three hours per day, followed by 20 hours of interruption. Such poor power feed will negatively impact on the wellbeing and safety of the people of Gaza. It will also have devastating effects on Gaza’s vital services, including hospitals, thus putting the lives and health of nearly two million people, including 1.4 million registered Palestine refugees, at risk.
Under International Humanitarian Law, the passage of all relief consignments, in this case fuel for electricity, should not be prevented. “We are calling on all concerned parties to maintain a supply of electricity that is sufficient to meet the basic needs of the civilian population,” said the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Matthias Schmale.
UNRWA is, furthermore, concerned about other measures perceived as punitive to the civilian population, such as closing down the fishing zone, as well as the escalating tensions and military activities. Gaza has now been hit by air raids for more than ten nights in a row. “All parties must show utmost restraint and protect the civilian population with full respect for their dignity and human rights,” added Schmale.
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 5.6 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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