1 December 2008 – United Nations refugee officials are still unable to get shekel notes into banks in Gaza, where Israel has imposed closures or restrictions on crossing points, leaving 94,000 of the poorest people without their regular cash assistance.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned almost two weeks ago that it would have to suspend cash distributions due to the lack of Israeli shekel notes in banks there.
The agency reported today that its school feeding program for 200,000 children also required 200,000 shekels per day. Schools are currently operating on credit with vendors, but are sounding alarm bells that they will be forced to stop shortly if they do not receive the cash.
Last week, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, appealed to donors to provide urgent funds to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation there, particularly in Gaza, where the continued border closures in recent weeks have prevented the delivery of vital food, medicine and fuel supplies.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently voiced regret that Israel had not heeded his call to urgently permit the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s civilian population. At the same time he reiterated his condemnation of rocket and other attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza against Israeli civilian targets, which Israel has cited as a reason for the closures.