Children playing in the besieged Gaza Strip. (AFP/Mahmud Hams, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The European Union (EU) released a statement on Tuesday stating that it would be contributing “social allowances” to 109,000 “poor Palestinian families” in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, as part of its quarterly payments to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
According to the statement, the amount given to the PA amounts to 11.75 million euros, and is partly funded by the European Union, as well as the governments of Austria and Ireland.
Some 71, 500 Palestinian families will have their social allowances covered by the funds, the statement added.
Two-thirds of those who benefit from the EU program, which provides funds to Palestinian households in “extreme poverty,” are families living in the Gaza Strip, where residents have suffered immensely in the past decade due to the ongoing Israeli military siege.
The EU provides the support to the PA Ministry of Social Development in order to “better serve vulnerable families through an inclusive and equitable social protection system,” the statement read, including through financial contributions to the PA’s cash transfer program for vulnerable Palestinian families and “improvement of social protection services.”
The statement added that the EU has helped support a “substantial proportion of the PA's running costs,” through reform and development programs in PA ministries to “help prepare the PA for statehood.”
More than 2.14 billion euros have been provided to the PA through their direct financial support programs since February 2008, according to the press release.
"Through contributing to the payment of social allowances, the EU is supporting the Palestinian Authority in providing social protection to those in need,” Deputy EU Representative Tomas Niklasson said in the statement. “This is particularly crucial in Gaza where we are facing alarming and increasing poverty rates."