Brussels, 17 July 2006
Commission provides €20 million food aid to the Palestinians
The European Commission is providing a €20 million aid package to bring food assistance to the most vulnerable Palestinians. The package includes €15 million, channelled through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), to provide food and cash subsidies to the Palestinian refugees registered as special hardship cases. Another €5 million, via the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), will help to meet basic food requirements for those non-refugee vulnerable people who have been deprived of their main source of livelihood. This aid is separate from the €105 million which the Commission recently announced for the Temporary International Mechanism, and brings the total made available to the Palestinian population so far this year to €329 million, considerably above the average annual provision made by the Commission.
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: “The deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories is a matter of great concern. This package, together with the aid that we are channelling via the International Temporary Mechanism, is designed to meet some of the basic needs of ordinary Palestinians caught up in the current crisis. All parties should do their utmost to ensure there is no worsening of the humanitarian situation, and should avoid harming the civilian population”.
The combined value of the food aid and cash subsidies support provided by UNRWA to special hardship cases will give families the flexibility to make purchases to meet their basic needs and increases their possibilities to purchase fresh foods. It is expected that the food aid will contribute to the food security of an estimated 237,344 special hardship case families among the Palestinian refugees and the cash component to 218,425 individuals.
The Commission also supports the WFP operations in favour of non-refugees Palestinians who are chronically poor or have become poor and food insecure as a result of loss of income, depletion of assets and exhaustion of coping mechanisms, since the outbreak of the second Intifada (September 2000). They will be assisted through food-for-work and food-for training programmes implemented by WFP in partnership with non-governmental organisations.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) provides basic relief, social, education and health services to the Palestinian refugees distributed in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza Strip. In September 2005, the refugee population numbered around 4.4 million people. The European Commission is the first donor to the UNRWA. Today’s allocation is on top of the €64 million available to UNRWA in February of this year.
The WFP, the UN agency specialised in free food aid distributions active in the Palestinian Territories since 1991, will support through its current Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 480,000 non-refugees Palestinians by providing 150,000 MT of food over 2 years. The Commission is the second donor of WFP.
Additional information on the EU’s relations with the West Bank and Gaza at:
Pictures of EU-funded fuel being delivered to hospitals in Gaza: