QUEEN RANIA AND COMMISSIONER-GENERAL DISCUSS SUPPORT FOR GAZA
27 July 2014
As violence in the Gaza Strip seriously worsens the plight of the 1.8 million people trapped in the coastal enclave, support and solidarity from the international community becomes increasingly important. On 27 July UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl met at UNRWA Headquarters in Amman with Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah to discuss the severe crisis and to express the Agency's gratitude for the support of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
“The situation in Gaza has been extreme for so many years, to the point of becoming completely unsustainable”, said the Commissioner-General. “This conflict has been a terrible added blow. It is taking a staggering toll on Gaza's civilians, and will leave a lasting mark for years to come - particularly on children. During the humanitarian ceasefire declared on 26 July, there were heartbreaking scenes when scores of civilian remains were recovered from underneath destroyed homes and buildings.”
The present round of Israeli military operations and ground offensive, of air-strikes and rocket fire, have left hundreds dead and thousands injured. Over 170'000 people have sought shelter in UNRWA schools, facing uncertainty, anguish and risks to their lives. UNRWA premises have been damaged in large numbers and hit directly by shelling on four separate occasions, in Maghazi Camp, in Deir el Balah and in Beit Hanoun, causing death and injury among civilians who sought protection and shelter in those very premises.
During the meeting, which included several members of the UNRWA team, Her Majesty said that the attacks on helpless civilians on UNRWA premises and other humanitarian spaces in Gaza “demonstrate the blatant disregard for human life in this conflict. What more proof does the world need that there is no safe place in Gaza? No safe place for tens of thousands of desperate and defenseless civilians seeking refuge from the violence?”
When this latest conflict broke out in Gaza, UNRWA put in place an emergency response on 7 July. It appealed for USD$115 million in order to respond to the consequences of the crisis, including the immediate needs of displaced Palestinians and to address the initial recovery efforts once the hostilities will have come to an end. The response of donors has been encouraging to date, for which the Agency is grateful. It has also included donations from Palestinian businesses and private persons, for which UNRWA is particularly appreciative.
Queen Rania noted that Gaza was suffering the third round of conflict in less than six years, “we need international support and international pressure to stop the extraordinary suffering that is growing by the hour.” She further stressed the need for the donor community to respond immediately to the UNRWA emergency appeal, “Gaza is a protracted humanitarian disaster; its people have been trapped in a vicious cycle of bloodshed and blockade for too long. Failure to meet the desperate needs of Gaza’s innocent civilians today would be a fundamental failure in our humanity… a total failure of our human spirit.”
At the meeting, Mr. Krähenbuhl expressed the Agency's gratitude for Jordan's continued support in facilitating the flow of humanitarian supplies through the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization, including an airlift of supplies for Gaza from the International Humanitarian City, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. To date, the Hashemite Charity has facilitated the passage of over 75 aid convoys to Gaza.
Queen Rania and the Commissioner-General discussed ways to further strengthen the close cooperation between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and UNRWA in addressing the needs of Palestinians in Gaza.
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$ 68 million.
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