The U.K. has announced it will issue 19 million pounds (USD27.6 million) to support the operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in providing health care and education to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and its surrounding area.
The funding forms part of the U.K.’s core contribution to the U.N. agency as agreed in a five-year funding deal in 2006.
The Department for International Development noted that 75 percent of Gazans rely on food handouts, and that 90 percent of the water supplied to them is not suitable for drinking. It said the grant aims to mitigate suffering among Gazans, 70 percent of whom are dependent on UNRWA’s services. The U.N. agency, it added, experiences a cash shortfall of USD176.1 million for 2010.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is both unacceptable and unsustainable,” U.K. Secretary of State for International development Andrew Mitchell said in a statement. “The UK is committed to helping those people affected by this crisis.”
Mitchell stressed the “immediate need for unfettered access to Gaza” to ease the humanitarian situation in the region and enable the economy to recover.
“I call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings to help end this humanitarian crisis,” the international development secretary remarked.
Oxfam said it welcomes the funding but sought more action from the U.K. government.
“Aid plus diplomatic action to end the embargo and put the peace process back on track is what is needed,” the anti-poverty group said in a statement. “The UK government should follow up this aid pledge with strong diplomatic efforts.”
Oxfam’s recommendation: an emergency international conference aimed “at getting all the major players round the negotiating table to end Gaza’s suffering.”