DUBAI BEGINS HUMANITARIAN AIRLIFT FOR UNRWA IN GAZA
21 July 2014
As the number of casualties and injured civilians rises in the Gaza Strip, aid agencies have geared up for the emergency response and mobilized relief supplies from the International Humanitarian City (IHC), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. These supplies have been donated to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for thousands of vulnerable displaced families in Gaza.
Under the direction of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, a special airlift in support of displaced families in Gaza began on Sunday from the Royal Wing in Dubai, where a 747 cargo took off carrying 115 metric tons of aid, containing 45,000 mattresses, 10,000 blankets and 220 hygiene kits. The plane landed at Marka International Airport in Amman early on Monday, 21 July.
"We are very grateful for the immediate reaction and most generous response we received from Dubai and all the IHC members to our call for help", said Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General, who added that "the Dubai airlift is one of the best examples of how effective humanitarians can be when working together."
In less than 24 hours, IHC coordinated participation of member organizations including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN World Food Programme (WFP)/UN Humanitarian Response Depot), the UN Children's Fund, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Emirates Red Crescent. The members planned a joint logistics effort to ensure maximum efficiency in delivering aid to 100,000 internally displaced people amid deteriorating security conditions in Gaza.
Relief items included jerrycans, sleeping mats, blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits and kitchen sets. They were dispatched from IHC warehouses, which hold supplies, as well as some of the largest global stockpiles, for aid agencies including UNHCR, WFP and IFRC, and then transferred to the royal aircraft in the Dubai Air Wing.
In the coming days, more airlifts are scheduled to arrive in Amman, from where UNRWA will truck the aid into Gaza for distribution. UNRWA plans to expand the scope of the donations to include emergency food parcels as stocks of food and other essential goods dwindle.
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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