Friday, November 24, 2017

UN to release $1.46 million for Gaza amid budgetary shortfall


By Zuzana Brezinová - July 15, 2015
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Operation Protective Edge] [UNRWA] [Gaza]

UNWRA shcool used as shelter during the summer 2014 Gaza war. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.

United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) announced yesterday it would release additional $1.46 million of funding to cover outstanding rental subsidies and provide reintegration grants for 2,499 refugee families in the Gaza Strip.

 

The financial assistance will add to the $180,000 already distributed among 195 refugee families whose homes were either destroyed or severely damaged in the Israeli bombing campaign last summer, which it dubbed “Operation Protective Edge.”

 

At least 60 percent of the funding, nearly $910,000, will go towards reintegration grants, worth $500 each, to replace lost household goods. These grants, together with the residential subsidies amounting to $556,900, will soon be available through local banks, a recent UNRWA press release indicates.

 

The release of new funding comes amidst a severe financial crisis the UN agency now confronts. UNRWA’s spokesperson Christopher Gunnes said in his latest statement that the organisation’s general fund is expected to reach a $101 million deficit by the end of this year.

 

Lacking sufficient funding, the UN agency, which has been providing help to Palestinian refugees since 1950, has already been forced to suspend its cash assistance programmes aimed at repairing residential housing and other facilities damaged during the Israeli assault on Gaza, Ma’an News Agency reported.

 

UNRWA announced one month ago that it would close over 90 temporary shelters in the Gaza Strip that have housed approximately 300,000 displaced Gazans, due to financial difficulties.

 

Waffa News Agency reported that while $720 million was required to cover the costs of rental subsidies and repairs, UNRWA received a mere $135 million, which had left it with a shortfall of $585 million.

 

“This level of underfunding is unprecedented and will have very direct and dire consequences on the Agency’s capacity to fulfil its mandate, as well as our ability to preserve past human development achievements,” UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said.

 

Significant shortages in UNRWA’s financial resources have also touched the ranks of its international employees. According to Gunness, UNRWA will have to separate 85 percent of its 137 international personnel on short-term contracts in a two-phase process.

 

“Thirty-fve percent of the contracts will be terminated by the end of July, another 50 percent then by the end of September,” said Gunnes.

 

These austerity measures have been adopted in order to reduce agency’s operational cost without implicating the services UNRWA provides to the population of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced people in both the West Bank and Gaza, explained the UNRWA spokesperson.


 

 

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