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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
5 October 2008
UAE Red Crescent puts food on the table for Eid in Gaza
The Eid festival, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is traditionally a time of celebration. However, the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip can be forgiven for feeling that there was little to celebrate at Eid this year. The reunion of families and the sharing of food, essential parts of the Eid celebration, have been rendered almost impossible by the Israeli blockade. Food prices in Gaza have risen this year by 32%, according to a recent survey undertaken by UNRWA, WFO and FAO. As a result of these price increases, Palestinians in the besieged territory are now forced to spend around 67% overall – 73% amongst the poorest sector – of their income on food.
In a response to this crisis and in an effort to alleviate the distress of some of Gaza's poorest residents, the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent (UAERC) made a generous contribution to food aid for refugees in Gaza during Ramadan. UAERC's contribution provided food parcels composed of chickpeas, cheese, luncheon meat and other items to 7,000 families from the beginning of the holy month.
The contribution has had a considerable impact on Gaza inhabitants. One beneficiary of the food aid, Siham Majdalawy, a 40 year old resident of Beach camp explained her situation, "I am a mother of 11 kids and our conditions are very difficult. We have Allah and UNRWA only. The support we receive from the UAERC and UNRWA will help us a lot". Despite the continuous evolution of UNWRA's emergency programme to ensure that humanitarian needs are met, resources are still stretched. As Ali Hassan, another 40 year old beneficiary and father of 8, explained "The situation in Gaza is continuously deteriorating and UNRWA's help is so essential but it is not enough. We hope that the agency increases its assistance and thank Allah that UAERC comes back to help us with cooperation with UNRWA".
The UAERC's contribution ensured that, for the inhabitants of Gaza, Eid was more of an occasion for celebration this year. But for many, a true Eid celebration will only be possible when they are once more independent and their lives resume a semblance of normality. The sentiments of Siham Majdalawy and Mieser Alshaer, 48 years old, echoed one another. Siham stated "my real demand is to have a job for my husband and not only to be provided with food", while Mieser will celebrate on the "joyful day when we find a job for my husband and we will not be in need for UNRWA or other associations".