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Source: World Food Programme (WFP)
11 June 2003

UN food agency head to get first hand view of Palestinian plight

11 June With more and more Palestinians becoming dependent on international food aid, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began a three-day on-site visit today to review first hand his agency’s efforts to help those impoverished by deteriorating security and economic conditions over the past two years.

"We are hopeful that the new efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will improve the humanitarian conditions in the territories soon," WFP Executive Director James T. Morris said.

Palestinian unemployment now stands at 67 per cent and for the past 12 months, WFP was able to bring in nearly 45,000 tons of food to ensure the basic needs of nearly half a million people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The agency plans to extend its emergency operation after the current $18-million programme ends on 30 June.

Israeli security measures make WFP operations in the territories extremely difficult, the agency said.

“Coping mechanisms are exhausted and poor families are selling vital assets such as jewelry, livestock and even land in order to purchase food and basic necessities,” the WFP Representative in the Palestinian Territories, Jean-Luc Siblot, said. “Many are caught in a downward spiral of indebtedness that results in a deepening poverty. Palestinian families have had to change their dietary habits, consuming cheaper and less protein-rich foods."

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