Gaza is described by many Palestinians and humanitarian actors as the world’s largest open-air prison, where nearly 2 million Palestinians live behind a blockade and are refused access to the rest of the world. (File photo via Daily Sabah)
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned that food assistance in Gaza is the largest unavoidable emergency in the Israeli-blockaded enclave.
In a statement issued on October 13, UNRWA said that the uniquely compelling circumstances of living under an economic blockade make food intervention unavoidable. It is even more necessary as the COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed livelihoods and aggravated an already tenuous economic situation.
It added that ensuring adequate funding for this key operation is a priority in all discussions between UNRWA and UN member-states. Today, UNRWA is doubling its efforts to secure US$ 15 million to cover an uninterrupted food delivery until the end of this year and order food for the beginning of next year.
The Agency warned that continuous rise in the level of poverty in Gaza has affected most of the Strip’s population. Traditional ways of assessing poverty and responding to different levels of need no longer apply. Consequently, the UNRWA food assistance will cover all registered Palestine refugees in Gaza.
New decisions applicable as of 2021 include adding newborn children to those who will receive assistance and removing those with a guaranteed and stable income – such as UNRWA and government employees from the list of recipients.
In line with practices in other UNRWA field offices, new plans are underway to revitalize the Social Safety Net Programme, which will allow to give cash assistance to identified groups amongst the most vulnerable groups.
Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have been enduring dire living conditions due to the 13-year-long Israeli siege and the devastating upshots of the Israeli onslaughts on the coastal enclave.
The offensives launched by the Israeli military on Gaza have turned the enclave into a hell on earth as most families have lost their sources of incomes, homes, and property.
According to data by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Gaza is one of the world's most densely populated areas, with more than 5,000 inhabitants per square kilometer. The Gaza Strip is smaller than the city of Oslo but is home to three times as many people.
A 2012 UN report predicted the Palestinian enclave would be “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to ease the blockade, but in June 2017 a UN report on living conditions in Gaza stated that all the indicators were going in the wrong direction and that deadline was actually approaching even faster than earlier predicted.
Gaza is described by many Palestinians and humanitarian actors as the world’s largest open-air prison, where nearly 2 million Palestinians live behind a blockade and are refused access to the other occupied Palestinian areas and the rest of the world.
NRC said 7 out of 10 Palestinians in Gaza are registered as refugees, and many of these come from families who were forced to leave their villages in 1948. Many have also been forced to leave their homes due to war, violence, and economic hardship.