22 November 2012
In an effort to provide care to injured Palestine refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) donated USD 400,000 worth of medication and medical supplies from its stock to the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist health centres across the Gaza Strip. The donation came as a rapid response to the shortage of medical supplies reported by the WHO.
Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza Robert Turner explained, “The vast majority of UNRWA’s primary health-care centres have remained open throughout the fighting, but even before this recent escalation, there were significant shortages of medicines and supplies for Gaza’s hospitals.”
According to the WHO, Gaza hospitals have to deal with growing numbers of casualties with severely depleted medical supplies. Before the start of the conflict, Gaza’s health sector faced critical shortages of drugs and disposables, with 40 per cent of essential medicines and 65 per cent of medical consumables at zero stock. The WHO is working to ensure that the life-saving medicines and medical consumables are delivered to health facilities where they are most needed.
To date, 19 out of 21 of UNRWA’s primary health-care centres remain operational. The Agency’s health services in Gaza extend to 1.2 million refugees. Two centres close to the border with Israel remain closed for security reasons. Emergency medical teams are staffing UNRWA’s health centres and pharmacies to provide essential medical care. Teams are also preparing to establish temporary or mobile clinics in the eventuality of large-scale population displacement.
For UNRWA’s Director of Health, Dr. Akihiro Seita, operating the Agency’s clinics and lending support to additional strained hospitals are both priorities. “It is very important for us to co-operate with the hospitals to ensure that the 70 per cent of Gaza’s population that we serve have access to vital health care during this crisis. Our current donation represents a fraction of what the WHO estimates is needed, so we greatly encourage the international community, health-sector partners, and individuals to address the shortage.”
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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, microfinance and emergency assistance.
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, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the budget deficit stands at USD 21 million.
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