More than a million people in Gaza are at risk of starvation in June unless international donors fill a $60m (£46m) funding gap manly caused by cuts to Palestinian refugee aid by the Trump administration, a UN agency has said.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is calling on the EU, the Gulf states and countries such as China and Russia to make “firm commitments” of $60m by the middle of June to prevent hunger.
Matthias Schmale, the director of the UNRWA’s operations in Gaza said: “We are in a critical situation in terms of our food delivery work.
“We have over a million people receiving quarterly food handouts and many of these people would not really survive without that every quarter.”
Speaking in Brussels to European officials, Schmale said “the most immediate reason” for the funding gap was the withdrawal of U.S. aid.
The U.S., which is the UNRWA’s largest donor, announced last year it was cutting all funding to the agency.
Schmale said: “What I hear a lot in Gaza is that the US, because of its perceived erratic behaviour, is no longer seen as a credible intermediary.
“The EU has perceived political capital [but] the EU member states are too preoccupied with themselves, so it is probably unrealistic to expect the EU to play a role.”
The UNRWA was created in 1949 to provide short-term relief for Palestinian refugees after the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, runs hospitals, schools and social services in five areas including the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.