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Source: World Food Programme (WFP)
24 August 2005



WFP pre-positions food in Gaza for Palestinians affected by Israeli withdrawal
Israel has withdrawn military forces and evacuated Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and the northern part of the West Bank. Concerned that the pullout might cause logistical problems, WFP pre-positioned enough food in the Gaza Strip to feed the 156,000 Palestinians who benefit from WFP rations until the end of October.

WFP has announced it has stored food supplies in Gaza Strip to sustain tens of thousands of impoverished Palestinians ahead of the Israeli withdrawal which started early on 15 August.

Anticipating possible logistic hurdles and uncertainty, the UN food aid agency in the occupied Palestinian territory pre-positioned 5,800 metric tonnes in 21 warehouses in the Gaza Strip.


FOOD UNTIL THE END OF OCTOBER

The food is sufficient to feed the 156,000 Palestinians who benefit from WFP rations until the end of October.

In addition, WFP has already provided all beneficiaries in the densely populated Strip with a two-month ration for July and August.

LOGISTICAL DIFFICULTIES

"In spite of the logistical difficulties that have increased with the Israeli disengagement, WFP, working with NGOs and the Palestinian Authority, has now secured enough food rations for the poorest Palestinians in Gaza", said WFP Country Director Arnold Vercken.
AL-MAWASI ENCLAVE
In the Al-Mawasi enclave, which has been one the areas most severely affected by the Israeli occupation, about 1,340 families have already received sufficient food for the next ten weeks.

For the past four years, Al-Mawasi has been under virtual siege by the Israelis with the movement of its 7,000 inhabitants completely restricted.

CURFEWS, ROAD BLOCKS, RESTRICTIONS

“We decided to take these measures because we were concerned that we might be unable to reach the people we help in Gaza for a short period of time during and after the withdrawal due to curfews, road blocks and possible restrictions on the movement of aid workers,” Vercken said.

ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL

On 15 August, Israel started withdrawing military forces and evacuating Jewish settlers from Gaza Strip.

All the 8,500 people who have lived in 21 Israeli settlements established in Gaza, after the area was captured in the 1967 war, are being relocated either to Israel or to the occupied West Bank.


NEW OPERATION

In September, WFP, which has been active in the Occupied Palestinian territory for the past 10 years, is launching a new two-year operation to provide nearly half a million Palestinians with food assistance.

The operation will bring about 154,000 tons of food to Gaza Strip and the West Bank at a cost of US$80 million.

MAJOR DONORS

Major donors to this operation include the European Union (US$9.6 million), the United States (US$1 million), Austria (US$300,000) and Italy (US$70,000).



The Israeli withdrawal
Israel has withdrawn military forces and evacuated Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and the northern part of the West Bank.
In total, 25 Jewish settlements have been abandoned, including all the 21 heavily fortified Gaza settlements. All 8,500 Gaza settlers are being relocated either to Israel or to the occupied West Bank settlements.
The settlements in Gaza occupied almost one fifth of the densely populated Strip - 1.3 million Palestinians live there.
Israel retains control of Gaza's borders, coastline and airspace and reserves the right to re-enter the territory at will.
Effects of withdrawal
Israelis, Palestinians and international observers are concerned that the process and/or aftermath of Israel's pullout may result in severe humanitarian consequences to the Palestinian population.
The Israeli pullout might force many Palestinians to find alternative ways to reach services they need in other towns, where access is expected to be slightly easier.The 185-km "Barrier" which physically separates the majority of the West Bank from Israel, coupled with border closures and extended periods of curfew, have undermined adequate access to food.
Poverty and food insecurity have increased the areas where Palestinians are unable to work, or reach local markets, schools and health services.Almost 20 percent of the total Palestinian population, in Gaza and the West Bank, live in extreme poverty or on less than US$1.6 a day.
WFP's response
WFP has been operating in the occupied Palestinian Territory since 1995. Its current operation, ending in August 2005, has been feeding 480,000 Palestinians over the past year.
Anticipating potential restrictions in access to the Gaza Strip during the withdrawal, WFP has provided all its beneficiaries with food rations for July and August. It has also moved nearly 6,000 tons of food into storage facilities in the Gaza Strip.
In September, WFP will launch a new two-year operation to provide 154,000 tons of food assistance to 135,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and 344,000 in the West Bank.


Contact WFP
For more information please contact:
Raheek Rinawi
WFP/Jerusalem
Cell: +972 522652991
raheek.rinawi@wfp.org


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