1. Situation overview
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global public health crisis. As of 5 May, there have been more than 3.5 million confirmed cases around the world and 245,150 deaths reported to the World Health Organization.1 Almost all countries have now been affected, including the five fields of UNRWA operation, i.e. Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and neighbouring countries.
Many nations with advanced health systems have struggled to cope with the spread of the virus, with demands for treatment and the need for testing often outstripping supply. Those with weaker systems are far less well equipped to respond and could quickly be overwhelmed if the disease follows the same trajectory as it has in countries already affected. In many of UNRWA’s fields of operation, the disease is placing additional strain on already overstretched and underfunded health systems. Whilst there have not yet been major outbreaks reported within Palestine refugee communities, the risk of escalation and rapid spread remains high in all fields. At the same time, the economic impact has been devastating and continues to worsen.
UNRWA launched its first COVID-19 flash appeal on 17 March, seeking US$14.1 million to respond to immediate health and hygiene impacts of the pandemic.
In response to the evolution of the pandemic across the Agency’s fields of operation and the health and socio-economic impacts on Palestine refugees, UNRWA has revised and expanded its COVID-19 flash appeal. The initial appeal focused primarily on the immediate and direct health and hygiene consequences of the pandemic. This update provides a revised assessment of, and response to, needs in the areas of health, hospitalization, water, sanitation and hygiene and education for a further three months. In addition, as the socio-economic consequences of the public health crisis become increasingly apparent, the Agency is expanding its response to include cash and food assistance for vulnerable populations. This covers existing caseloads whose needs have increased and others who have been pushed into poverty.
The appeal does not address the wider economic or social impacts of the crisis but serves as a bridge to the longer term recovery and stabilization planning and programming that will be required.
We underscore for all of our partners that the urgent activities presented in this appeal can only be implemented if the Agency’s Programme Budget receives contributions in the amount required to sustain operations for the duration of this appeal.
Through this revised flash appeal, UNRWA requires US$ 93.4 million to cover its COVID-19-related humanitarian operations from March-July. This appeal supersedes the original appeal issued on 17 March 2020.