The European Union, Spain and Ireland have joined forces to contribute to the Palestinian Authority's new payment of social allowances to poor and vulnerable Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza. The contribution, channelled through the PEGASE mechanism, amounts to €14 million (€12.7 million from the budget of the European Union, €0.8 million from the Government of Spain and €0.5 million from the Government of Ireland).
Palestinian households living in extreme poverty receive assistance through the national cash transfer programme administered by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The programme provides a basic safety-net to the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza through cash and in-kind assistance.
Today's contribution will reach over 70,400 Palestinian families living in extreme poverty. More than half live in Gaza.
"Levels of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion among Palestinian have significantly increased recently. Today over a quarter of Palestinians live in poverty, and one in ten in extreme poverty. The situation is particularly worrying in Gaza, where, as result of the summer conflict, many people have been made more vulnerable," said the EU Representative, John Gatt-Rutter. "The assistance provided through the cash transfer programme is essential to help ensure that relief immediately reaches those in greatest need. However, on its own it is not a sufficient remedy. Ultimately it is only through economic development that Palestinians will be provided with real opportunities for growth and prosperity. I therefore take this opportunity, once more, to call for the lifting of restrictions on movement and access in Gaza and across the West Bank in order to create conditions for Palestinian development and the eradication of the levels of poverty we are witnessing today.
Payments are made through a network of local banks in Gaza and the West Bank.
This contribution represents the third and last tranche of an overall 2014 financial commitment of €40 million allocated to the payment of social allowances for households living in extreme poverty in the West Bank in Gaza. This amount, which includes funds from the EU budget and donors' contribution, covered 40% of the total cost of the Palestinian cash transfer programme.
Most of the European Union's assistance to the Palestinian Authority is channelled through PEGASE, the financial mechanism launched in 2008 to support the PA Reform and Development Plan (2008-2010) and the subsequent Palestinian national plans. As well as helping to meet a substantial proportion of the PA's running costs, European Union funds are supporting major reform and development programmes in key ministries, to help prepare the PA for statehood. Since February 2008, over €1.74 billion have been disbursed through the PEGASE direct financial support programmes. In addition, the EU has provided assistance to the Palestinian people through UNRWA as well as a wide range of other cooperation projects.