Palestinian children play next the remains of their house on June 22, 2015 in Gaza City, which was destroyed during 50-day Israeli offensive in the summer of 2014 (AFP/Mahmud Hams, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced on Monday a coordinated appeal to the international community for $547 million in humanitarian aid for the 2017.
The more than half-a-billion dollar target sum would go toward the implementation of 243 projects undertaken by 95 organizations, including 47 national and 35 international NGOs, as well as 13 UN agencies, according to a joint press release from UNOCHA and the state of Palestine.
Almost 70 percent of the $547 million in funds would be directed toward projects in the besieged Gaza Strip, where Palestinians “are facing their tenth year under a blockade that precludes any vestige of ‘normal life,’” UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper was quoted in the press release as saying.
Palestinian Minister of Social Development Ibrahim al-Shaer meanwhile stressed the importance of raising the funds due the dire conditions experienced by Palestinians as a result of the blockade of the Gaza Strip and nearly 50 years of “brutal” military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“How can Palestinians achieve economic prosperity and social cohesion, while living under occupation without sovereignty; without being able to control our lives and destiny; without being able to enjoy our political, social and economic rights; without enjoying our natural resources; without using our lands; without geographic integrity between the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and Gaza?”
Piper highlighted the “territorial fragmentation, restrictions on movement, poor access to services and the pressures of a settlement enterprise that continues unchecked” experienced in the occupied territory.
“International support is critical to continue providing relief to vulnerable Palestinians,” said Piper. “But we are just trying to buy time -- this humanitarian response must be coupled with bold political action to bring the world’s most protracted protection crisis to a close.”
The 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan is the 15th coordinated effort between the UN and Palestine.
According to the UN’s humanitarian assessments, some 1.8 million people are in high need of protection across the occupied Palestinian territory, and 1.6 million people are moderately to severely food insecure.
In Gaza, over 50,000 people remain displaced from Israel’s devastating assault on the small territory in 2014, while 8,000 people in the West Bank are “at high risk of forcible transfer due to a coercive environment,” the statement said, adding that “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians in the occupied territory have restricted access to essential services.