The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority Monday appealed for $350 million in humanitarian relief for Palestinians next year, saying they need more in the face of “record-low” funding.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan highlighted 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups, including U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
The plan prioritized “the most vulnerable” 1.4 million Palestinians who are in need of food, health care, water, shelter and sanitation, Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Palestine, said.
“Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimize humanitarian action,” he said in a joint statement issued Monday ahead of the appeal’s launch in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Although “much more assistance is needed,” McGoldrick said, the plan was “reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly constrained context.”
The United States pledged $350 million to the agency early this year, but only paid the first installment of $60 million.
Then in August, the U.S. announced the withdrawal of future donations to the agency.
“The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement, adding it was not willing to “shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden” of supporting the Palestinians.
McGoldrick added that when United States ended the funding for the U.N. agency, which is responsible for helping 5 million Palestinian refugees, local aid work witnessed devastating outcomes.
Following Monday’s joint appeal, Qatar and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency signed a landmark two-year agreement in support of UNRWA’s core services including education, health care, relief and social services.
Khalifa Bin Jassim Al-Kuwari, managing director of the Qatar Fund for Development, highlighted the importance of the partnership with the agency.
“This agreement with UNRWA will ensure the continued protection and assistance of our Palestine refugee brothers and sisters.
“They deserve to live decent lives and enjoy the totality of our shared human rights,” Kuwari said.
The agreement, signed on the sidelines of the Doha Forum, follows Qatar’s $50 million contribution in 2018, in response to the most severe funding crisis faced by UNRWA.
UNRWA had managed to overcome the $446 million shortfall this year after Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar, donated $50 million each.
The European Union also contributed to the agency.
“The State of Qatar will lend its support to any initiative that benefits Palestine refugees,” Kuwari said.
Around 77 percent of the funds sought in the 2019 plan would go to Gaza, the appeal organizers said, because the strip faced a “dire humanitarian situation,” after years under Israeli occupation.
“The humanitarian context in the [occupied Palestinian territories] is still deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation violations in a time of lack of resources and declining funds because of the politicization of the humanitarian aid,” Palestinian Social Development Minister Ibrahim al-Shaer said in the statement.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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