August 10, 2010
The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has approved an emergency grant of US$500,000 in support of an initiative of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) to mitigate the effects of the blockade endured by Gaza's Palestinian refugees.
Over two-thirds of the 1.4 million residents of Gaza are refugees registered with UNRWA. The present ban on exports and restrictions imposed on imports has virtually destroyed the formal private sector, leading to dramatic rises in poverty and unemployment levels. As the blockade extends to materials and equipment needed to rebuild homes and infrastructure, reconstruction and recovery efforts are seriously compromised. To mitigate the daily hardships endured by Gaza's Palestinian refugees, UNRWA is seeking support for the following priority interventions:
Cash assistance: Grants will be given to approximately 65,000 families living in abject poverty to enable them to meet their basic needs.
Food assistance: Under the emergency plan, regular food parcels being supplied to needy families will be supplemented with canned meat to add much-needed protein to their diets.
Job creation: UNRWA will secure temporary employment for 54,000 jobless refugees. The annual income per person will be approximately US$1,000.
Prosthetic devices for children with disabilities: Some 500 children between the ages of 0-14 will be provided with the necessary prosthetic devices required annually in order to contribute to their physical and educational development.;
School feeding: Students attending UNRWA's schools and vocational training centers are receiving meals to help improve their nutritional status and boost academic performance. The present program will insure continued coverage to refugee pupils for one year.
The grant, which will be channeled through UNRWA, will be drawn from OFID's Special Grant Account for Palestine. OFID established the account in 2002 to address the needs of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and accelerate the delivery of social and economic assistance. To date, OFID has committed close to US$85 million from the account to help achieve this aim.