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UNRWA funding shortfalls are disgrace for international community

A serious shortage of funding getting through to UNRWA is blocking the agency's ability to provide essential relief and assistance to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, where 96,000 homes were destroyed following Israel's deadly military onslaught in July and August last year.

The acute financial situation of UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency – was debated at the insistence of GUE/NGL this afternoon in plenary.

Irish MEP Martina Anderson said: “720 million dollars of assistance is needed. So far UNRWA has received 135 million, leaving a shortfall of 585 million dollars. What happened to the 5.4 billion dollars that was pledged in Cairo?

“In the overpopulated open prison of Gaza, people are sleeping among the rubble. Some children are dying of hypothermia as a result of inadequate winter shelter.

“When Palestinians are silenced they are forgotten by many but thankfully not by UNRWA whose 12,500 staff work tirelessly on all our behalves. Let's give them the funding they need to help the Palestinian refugees.”

Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis, who also expressed his “deep respect” for the work of UNRWA, commented:

“Since 27 February, UNRWA has been unable to provide any help for reconstruction or services to Gaza because it has not received enough of the money pledged in Cairo. The EU must honour its commitments and provide the funding immediately. The international community should not forget Gaza.

“We demand that Gaza stops being colonised. We must end the Gaza blockade and the occupation. The international community must recognise Palestine and welcome the ICC Palestine application that would end Israel's impunity.”

“On top of all the problems the Palestinian people, and particularly those in Gaza, are suffering from – namely, the blockade, displaced refugees, and murderous attacks from the Israeli army which destroy houses and infrastructure and wound thousands of people – now, the international structure which goes some way to helping them is financially unable to do so,” added French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric. “We can't allow this to happen. We have to find the means to meet the needs. Those who have made commitments have to play their part.”

“How come we have no problem finding money for arms and war, but fall short when it comes to helping young innocent children?” asked MEP Le Hyaric.

Martina Anderson concluded: “If the international community does not have the political will to resolve this mess and address the root causes of the conflict in Palestine – the occupation of Palestine, the blockade of Gaza, and Israel's ongoing violation of international and humanitarian law – then the very least we should do is stop taking it out on the most vulnerable people in Gaza.”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group