More than a million people in Gaza risk going hungry next month unless international donors fill a $60m (£46m) funding black hole largely created by cuts to Palestinian refugee aid by the Trump administration, a UN agency has said.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which provides food for more than 1 million people in the Gaza strip, is calling on the EU, Gulf states and large emerging economies such as Russia and China to make “firm commitments” of $60m by the middle of June to prevent hunger.
Advertisement “We are in a critical situation in terms of our food delivery work,” said Matthias Schmale, the director of the UNRWA’s operations in Gaza. “We have over a million people receiving quarterly food handouts and many of these people would not really survive without that every quarter.” Speaking in Brussels before meeting European officials, Schmale said “the most immediate reason” for the funding gap was the loss of US support.
The US announced in 2018 it was cutting all funding to the UNRWA, an abrupt loss from the agency’s hitherto largest donor, which provided $360m in 2017.
Schmale said it would have been “a different story” if the US had gradually reduced funds, although still “unfortunate and sad”. But the disappearance of funds from one day to the next caused havoc, forcing UNRWA to make deep cuts to health and employment programmes in the Gaza Strip.
The agency slashed its mental health budget by 50% in the second half of 2018, which reduced the availability of counselling for children in the war-torn region. It also cut a programme that creates short-term work for people in Gaza, a lifeline in an economy where the unemployment rate is 53%. In 2018, 10,139 people benefited from short-term work, down 48% on the previous year. #Support#this#user#by#sharing #the#account#send#in#pictures #and#videos#repost @palestine.daily