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Palestinians, UN launch funding appeal after brutal cuts

The UN's agency for Palestinian refugees has suffered savage funding cuts under Trump [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 December, 2018

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Humanitarian relief is needed for 1.4 million Palestinians, with 77 percent of the aid sought going to Gaza.
The United Nations (UN) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have launched an appeal for $350 million in humanitarian relief for 2019 after a year of brutal funding cuts.

More money is needed, they said, but had to be realistic with the amount that could be achieved.

"Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimise humanitarian action," Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem, said in a joint statement issued on Monday.

Although "much more assistance is needed", McGoldrick said, the plan was "reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly constrained context".

At least 1.4 million Palestinians will be prioritised in the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, which includes 203 projects carried out by 88 different groups including UN agencies and NGOs and providing food, healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation.

Around 77 percent of the funds sought would go to Gaza, the impoverished strip which has seen unprecedented Israeli violence over the bulk of 2018, exasperating the crippling Israeli blockade and problems caused by a fractured Palestinian leadership.

Comment: Trump's endgame in Palestine

"The humanitarian context in the oPt (Occupied Palestinian Territories) is still deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation violations in a time of lack of resources and declining funds because of the politicization of the humanitarian aid," Palestinian Social Development Minister Ibrahim Al-Shaer said in the statement.

The appeal, launched in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, comes after the United States slashed its funding to Palestinian organisations, including to the UN agency that provides services to 5 million Palestinian refugees.

The US had pledged $365 million to UNRWA in 2018, but pulled the plug after paying only the first instalment of $60 million. 

Experts say Washington is using aid money to pressure Palestinians to accept a peace plan penned by President Donald Trump's administration.

Meanwhile, the US military budget for the coming year has inched closer to the trillion mark, with Trump approving a colossal defence package of $717 billion.

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