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Gaza food aid to 'run out' due to Trump UN budget cuts

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for over a decade. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 April, 2018

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US President Donald Trump's administration has so far committed only $60 million to the UN's Palestinian refugee agency this year, down from $360 million in 2017.

Emergency food aid for over a million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip may run out in June as the UN agency for Palestinian refugees struggles to cope with US President Donald Trump's huge budget cuts.

US President Donald Trump's administration has so far committed only $60 million to the agency this year, down from $360 million in 2017. 

He has frozen two planned payments worth more than $100 million - one for UNRWA's central budget and one for food aid.

"You already have a very, very fragile community (in Gaza)," Pierre Kraehenbuehl, who heads the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told Reuters.

"So if you suddenly have no certainty about the amount of food aid coming from the UN for a million people ... you can just imagine the kind of effects it could have," he said.

Gulf states, Canada and Norway have provided a total of $200 million to help meet the planned $465 million UNRWA budget for 2018, but there remains a $200 million shortfall for rice, flour, sugar and funding for schools in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Kraehenbuehl said that the shortfall in funding for the agency could also mean there may not be enough money to re-open schools in August and September for the new academic year.

"This is our largest funding crisis ever," he said.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated territories on the planet, with two million Palestinians crammed into just 362 square kilometres – and unable to leave

The United Nations calls Gaza occupied territory and says Israel is an occupying power. Both the UN and rights groups say the blockade amounts to "collective punishment".

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