Fund­ing short­age leads to WFP cuts for Pales­tini­ans

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

JERUSALEM: The World Food Pro­gramme has sus­pended or re­duced aid for some of its Pales­tinian ben­e­fi­cia­ries in the oc­cu­pied West Bank and Gaza Strip due to fund­ing short­ages, an of­fi­cial with the or­gan­i­sa­tion said on Sun­day.

Some 27,000 Pales­tini­ans are no longer re­ceiv­ing aid through the United Na­tions pro­gramme since Jan­uary 1 in the West Bank, said Stephen Kear­ney, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s di­rec­tor for the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries.

An­other 165,000, in­clud­ing 110,000 in Gaza, are re­ceiv­ing 80 per cent of the usual amount, he said.

The cuts were de­cided upon after a grad­ual re­duc­tion in do­na­tions over the past nearly four years, with US cuts hav­ing the big­gest ef­fect.

In 2018, the WFP as­sisted 250,000 peo­ple in Gaza and 110,000 in the West Bank.

In the vil­lage of Yatta near He­bron in the south­ern West Bank, Maha Al Nawa­jah said she is buy­ing fewer ne­ces­si­ties.

“In De­cem­ber, they did not re­new my card,” said the 52-year-old mother, re­fer­ring to the WFP card that al­lowed her to buy gro­ceries for 12 mem­bers of her ex­tended fam­ily.

She said fam­ily mem­bers were un­em­ployed.

“My sons do not have per­mis­sion to en­ter into Is­rael and my hus­band re­ceives it oc­ca­sion­ally” and can earn some cash dur­ing those times, she said.

The West Bank has an un­em­ploy­ment rate of 18 per cent and some Pales­tini­ans seek to work in Is­rael with the hope of earn­ing a higher salary.

But per­mits are needed to do so and Is­rael is se­lec­tive in who is given one.

The WFP launched a fund­ing ap­peal on De­cem­ber 19 and re­ceived ad­di­tional con­tri­bu­tions from the Euro­pean Union and Switzer­land, but the amount re­mains short, Kear­ney said.

It said at the time that it was in need of $57 mil­lion. It will now seek con­tri­bu­tions from new donors in an ef­fort to fill the gap, he said.

Kear­ney said there were also con­cerns that the cuts would af­fect the lo­cal econ­omy since res­i­dents used the cards to buy goods in lo­cal stores.

In the Gaza Strip, around 80 per cent of the two mil­lion res­i­dents rely on in­ter­na­tional aid.

The strip has been un­der an Is­raeli block­ade for more than a decade. Is­rael and Gaza’s rulers Ha­mas have fought three wars since 2008.

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