UN LAUNCHES US$705 MILLION APPEAL FOR PALESTINIANS

RAMALLAH, Feb 13 — The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory on Thursday launched an appeal to boost funding for more than a million Palestinians who continue to face grim conditions on the ground and an uncertain future.

In a press release, James Rawley, who also functions as the UN’s Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, presented the 2015 Strategic Response Plan in an effort to raise the $705 million required to help 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank with their sharply increasing humanitarian needs.

“2014 was a tragic year for Palestine,” Rawley explained. “Approximately 100,000 people are still unable to return to their homes in Gaza, and in the West Bank, thousands more live in chronic insecurity, at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods as a result of demolitions.”

According to UN estimates, a lack of donor support for the Plan would result in the continued displacement of over 22,000 families while up to 1.6 million people across the occupied Palestinian territory would be deprived of adequate water and sanitation services, and food assistance. Access to basic healthcare and education would also be compromised, Rawley added.

As a result, the 2015 Strategic Response Plan will seek to carry out a total of 207 projects presented by 77 organizations, including 64 national and international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) as well as 13 UN agencies, with almost 80 per cent of the funding aimed at providing shelter and enhancing food security. Over 75 per cent of the requested funds target needs in the war-torn Gaza enclave.

Despite UN efforts to assist in its recovery, Gaza continues to reel from last summer’s conflict with Israel, in which nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 70 Israelis died during the 50 days of fighting.

In addition, the violence saw the wide-scale destruction of property. According to a recent UN assessment, over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, affecting more than 600,000 people. Many people still lack access to the municipal water network and blackouts of up to 18 hours per day are common.

“Alongside the humanitarian response, we need fundamental changes, particularly in Gaza which is teetering on the brink of another major crisis,” Rawley continued. “Above all, the fragile ceasefire needs to be solidified, the blockade lifted, human rights respected, and a political solution reached for the entire Palestinian territory.”

SOURCE: UNNS