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Fighting hunger due to COVID‑19 – Germany’s support of the UNRWA in the Gaza Strip

A voluntary aid worker assists with the loading and distribution of emergency food aid in Gaza.

A voluntary aid worker assists with the loading and distribution of emergency food aid in Gaza., © 2020 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

15.10.2020 - Article

The already precarious situation of the people in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating further due to the COVID‑19 pandemic and measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is supporting needy families with food.

Fraught humanitarian situation

The economic and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip was already very fraught prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic. Severe restrictions on public life initially prevented a large‑scale spread of the virus. However, they also caused the economy to grind to almost a complete standstill. The number of infections has now risen recently despite drastic measures. The healthcare system is barely prepared for this and there is a lack of medical infrastructure such as intensive care beds and medicines for treating those infected.

Persistent food insecurity

Over one million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are dependent on food aid to meet their daily basic nutritional needs. They frequently include the most vulnerable, including around 17,000 female‑headed households and some 40,000 people with disabilities. For them the emergency food aid provided by the UNRWA is essential for survival. The UNRWA supports these needy households with food packages, thereby securing their basic supplies.

No aid without support

In order to facilitate this aid, the UNRWA needs additional financial resources. The Relief and Works Agency estimates the current requirement just for the provision of food aid at over 80 million euro. Germany has made 20 million euro available to the UNRWA as emergency aid due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. This funding has enabled the Relief and Works Agency to respond promptly to supply bottlenecks caused by the pandemic in Gaza and the other regions in which it operates – Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank. Minister for Foreign Affairs Maas pledged another two million euro of support for measures to overcome the impact of COVID‑19 when UNRWA Commissioner‑General Lazzarini visited Berlin in October.

Germany is also supporting the important work of the World Food Programme (WFP) in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In view of the sharp rise in food insecurity, the Federal Foreign Office is providing the WFP with an additional five million euro for 2020 and 2021. The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the WFP in the Palestinian territories with a total of ten million euro in 2020.

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