FOOD ASSISTANCE FROM TURKEY ARRIVES IN GAZA
31 December 2014
The last of nine shipments of wheat flour donated by Turkey to Gaza in 2014 has arrived in the coastal strip. The full donation of 15,000 metric tonnes, donated by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of the Prime Ministry of the Republic of Turkey (AFAD), is worth US$ 6.25 million and will feed more than 140,000 families.
“The economic situation in Gaza is dire – devastated by years of blockade and recurrent conflict,” said UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Margot Ellis. “This means hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are food insecure and reliant on food aid, such as that provided by Turkey. On behalf of UNRWA, I thank the government and people of Turkey for their generous ongoing assistance.”
Unemployment has skyrocketed in the Gaza Strip since the tightening of the blockade seven years ago, as imports, exports, and job opportunities have slowed or come to a complete halt. Refugee unemployment reached 45.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2014 – the highest level ever reported in UNRWA records. The number of Palestine refugees relying on UNRWA for food aid has increased from fewer than 80,000 in 2000 to over 867,000 today.
In addition to the wheat flour, Turkey donated 11,000 parcels of food for Palestinians living in UNRWA Temporary Shelters in Gaza this summer.
AFAD President Fuat Oktay said, “Turkey closely follows the dire situation in Palestine and humanitarian needs of its people. Palestine has always had a special place in our hearts. AFAD will continue to support Palestine people further.”
In addition to in-kind food contributions, Turkey provides significant financial support to UNRWA. Since 2009, the Government of Turkey has more than doubled its contribution to the Agency, reaching an annual total of US$ 1.275 million during the past two years. Turkey chairs the Working Group on the Financing of the UNRWA in New York, and is a founding member of the Advisory Commission that comprises the Agency’s major government supporters.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 35 million.
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