UN: Half Palestinian population need humanitarian help

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The UN said in a report that Palestinian socioeconomic development has suffered one of its worst years since 1994.

The report published Thursday by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), said that almost half of the Palestinian population requires humanitarian aid, with the protracted humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The PA [Palestinian Authority] and the Palestinian people have been hit hard in 2020, with more than half the population in need, but I’m hopeful that donors will step up and provide much needed support,” said Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland.

It describes 2020 as a year of setbacks for Palestinians, their institutions and their economy due to the pandemic and an unprecedented fiscal crisis.

It adds that around 150,000 Palestinians lost jobs during the first lockdown last spring, and large negative effects are expected from the current lockdown.

Wennesland said: “As of early February, vaccines have also begun arriving in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and, through the efforts of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the UN is supporting the Palestinian Government’s preparedness to receive and administer vaccines, including through the global COVAX-AMC facility.”

He further noted that Israel’s logistical support is needed in delivering vaccines to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The report said large allocations of vaccines to cover priority groups are expected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the next two months, but significant funding gaps remain.

“These are challenging times, but this is all the more reason for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to demonstrate flexibility and a pragmatic approach to solving urgent issues and ensuring the Palestinian people can bounce back from a tough year,” said Wennesland.

The report adds that reintegration of the West Bank and Gaza Strip across the greatest number of dimensions should be a priority.

It implored the international community to support a wide range of humanitarian and development projects, alongside technical assistance, to help the Palestinian government follow through on pledges of economic reform.

“I call on the international community to work together to prevent any further backsliding for the Palestinian people and see progress in some important areas of common interest, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian economic relationship,” said Wennesland.

Source: This article first appeared in Anadolu Agency, along with the cover photo. 

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