Humanitarian Situation in Palestine

The Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Office in New York, Peter Mulrean, said that despite the financial crisis faced by UNRWA after a decision by the United States at the beginning of 2018 to end its funding to the organization, “UNRWA was able to maintain its primary services.”

Mulrean said UNRWA faced a 446 million shortfall in 2018, but “through the generosity of the international community, both large donors and small, we got that shortfall down to zero by the end of 2018.”

Briefing reporters in New York, Mulrean was joined by the Directors of UNRWA operations in Gaza, Matthias Schmale, and the West Bank, Gwyn Lewis.

In response to a question on UNRWA schools in Gaza, Schmale said, “we tried to ensure that our teaching personnel, our teachers, transmit also UN values around peace and not hating others. I visit our schools very regularly, and unsurprisingly in the context of the blockade and what goes on, you will find a student or two who has a certain narrative. By far the majority I meet of both children, and teachers, and parents, are peace-loving people. They want a dignified future. Anyone who suggests, as has been the case and was in your question, that schools in Gaza are schools for terrorists, are on the wrong track. That is not the reality I experienced on the ground.”

Lewis reported on the difficulties faced by camp residents in the West Bank.

She said, “last year for example, we had over seven thousand incursions by the Israeli security Forces into the West Bank. That means about 19 military operations inside the territory a day, or for the camps in particular, that’s twice a day. So, for the residents of the camps, that means heavily armed soldiers entering their camps, very densely populated communities, and a very high use of live ammunition. We have very high rates of injuries from live ammunition and heavy use of tear gas, double amount of tear gas usage in the camps in the West Bank than in the rest of the West Bank.”

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs.

The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.

Published on Jun 4, 2019

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