More than 185 million sought by UN agency to aid Palestinians in

“The statistics of death, destruction and poverty in this appeal do little to convey the real suffering of the population of the occupied territory,” Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) told a meeting of donor representatives in East Jerusalem. “Whole neighbourhoods in Jabalia and Rafah camps (in Gaza) have been flattened. Our schools are seeing an entire generation grow up in an environment of terrifying violence. The curse of endemic poverty now touches two thirds of the population.” UNRWA said 2004 had seen the worst levels of destruction of the uprising, as Israel employed drastic measures against Palestinian militants firing rockets from Gaza and other security threats. The accelerating levels of demolitions, increasing deaths and injuries, and strict movement restrictions had contributed to ever-growing hardship for the refugee population, it added. More than 2.2 million people were now surviving on less than $2 per person per day. “By meeting the emergency needs of the refugee population, the donor community can replace some of the uncertainty with a modicum of stability – going a long way to allow families to contribute positively to their communities,” Mr. Hansen said. The appeal covers five main programmes:$67.7 million for its emergency reconstruction to replace housing for some of the over the 25,000 Palestinians who have lost their homes to Israeli demolition; $40.9 million for emergency employment to create 2.6 million work days for thousands of unemployed breadwinners, allowing them to support over 250,000 dependents throughout 2005; $53.7 million for emergency food to provide basic staples, such as flour, rice, milk powder and lentils to almost 230,000 families, or more than 1 million people; $18.5 million for emergency cash to aid the most vulnerable families when their homes are demolished or when unemployment, imprisonment or death robs them of their breadwinner; and $696,000 to bring emergency health services to 14,000 patients every month, as Israeli closures of areas and construction of a separation barrier have left many communities without access to medical care. A further $4 million is needed to allow UNRWA to try to cover the costs of movement restrictions related to the uprising and to safeguard the neutrality of its installations. read more