December 17, 2018
UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammad | Palestinian refugee residing at UNRWA collective shelter at Khan Dunoun Camp, Syria (2015).
The need for aid in the occupied Palestinian territory has increased, following a year that has seen a “serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation,” said Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the region, in a statement on Monday.
Mr. McGoldrick’s comments were released as part of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territory, which calls for $350 million to assist 1.4 million people, the maximum number of people that the UN can, he said, realistically reach in the current “non-conducive political and resource climate.”
“Our plan for 2019 prioritizes assistance for people assessed as being most in need of protection, food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation,” said Mr. McGoldrick. “It enables us to maximize limited funding. But much more is needed, and we stand ready to do more, if funding and operational space are improved.”
The Humanitarian Coordinator described 2018 as a challenging year for UN agencies and aid workers in the region, particularly in Gaza. There were recurrent outbreaks of violence and a significant rise in casualties from demonstrations at the border fence between Gaza and Israel, referred to by Palestinians as the “Great March of Return.”
Since March, over 150 Palestinians have reportedly been killed, and more than 10,000 injured, by Israeli forces in connection with the demonstrations: consequently, the funding requested for health services in 2019 has gone up, reflecting the surge in demand on an already overburdened health sector in Gaza.
The economy of Gaza is also a cause for concern, he added: the World Bank described it as being in “freefall” in a September press release, with unemployment, poverty and food insecurity on the rise. Mr. McGoldrick said that an increase in partner funding is expected, in order to meet the most urgent needs of those living in the occupied territories, to protect the rights of those living under occupation, and provide basic services for the most vulnerable.