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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


UNRWA/20001201
1 December 2000


PALESTINIAN REFUGEE EMERGENCY NEEDS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA

DISCUSSED AT A MEETING IN LAUSANNE ON 30 NOVEMBER AND 1 DECEMBER


At the invitation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), representatives of UNRWA and 24 Donor and host governments and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) met in Lausanne, Switzerland on 30 November and 1 December 2000. The meeting, held within the framework of the tripartite partnership between host government/PLO, donors and UNRWA, considered UNRWA's emergency appeal issued in early November and the humanitarian crisis among Palestine refugees in Gaza and the West Bank.

The current unrest in the West Bank and Gaza in affecting Palestine refugees in both areas and is causing extreme pressure on UNRWA's already limited resources. In order to address the additional requirements, UNRWA has identified urgent and immediate needs at a cost of $39.3 million. As a result of the confrontations and of the social and economic impact caused by Israel's closure of the Palestinian territories, some 220,000 Palestine refugee families have turned to UNRWA for immediate food and cash assistance. In addition, the Agency's medical facilities have come under extreme strain while providing emergency assistance to those directly affected.

UNRWA's emergency appeal aims to provide food and cash assistance to affected refugee families in the West Bank and Gaza, emergency medical needs, temporary employment opportunities and shelter repair and reconstruction.

Participants stressed the importance of unhindered mobility of Agency staff and services as the only means to ensuring the continuity of UNRWA's regular operations as well as the implementation and effectiveness of the humanitarian assistance envisaged under the emergency appeal.

A number of donor representatives indicated that their governments will provide funding for the emergency appeal. Announcements to this effect will be made in particular at the pledging conference to be held next Monday, December 4, 2000, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The participants in the meeting expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the Swiss Government for hosting the meeting and to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for its initiative in proposing and facilitating the meeting.


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