Protecting Palestinians from turmoil
Mr Grandi compared today’s parlous situation with 2009 when UNWRA received many contributions for Gaza.
“The blockade is still there, the people are still poor. The infrastructure is crumbling, the water is undrinkable, the population is growing and I have a hard time convincing donors to give me enough money to distribute food to the people. So, you know, marginalisation has very much a human impact it is not just a political issue,” he said.
“The Israelis eased the blockade after 2010 but it is still a small opening of the door. The door has to be opened fully. It is not a matter of negotiating how many trucks [carrying supplies] go in and out on a day-to-day basis but accepting the principle that the blockade is illegal under humanitarian law and not conducive to stability and security in the region.” Mr Gilmore called for the blockade to be lifted when he visited Gaza, Mr Grandi stated.
Marginalisation also means that the issues of Israel’s wall, checkpoints and restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank are “not being raised”. Palestinians in Syria are being physically impacted by the war.
While the Palestine Liberation Organisation said 400-500 Palestinians have been killed, UNWRA gives out no figures because no one knows what the correct figures are. Palestinians “are poor, they are suffering. This is why they become very vulnerable,” he stated.
“Palestinians always get stuck . . . Stuck in Gaza, stuck in the West Bank, stuck in Lebanon, and now stuck in Syria . . . where they were well treated. Lebanon and Jordan are reluctant to allow Palestinians in. Jordan has permitted only a few to enter while Lebanon has adopted a pragmatic, flexible approach and received a few thousand.”
There is a “pervasive sense of fear in Syria where the popu- lation is not accustomed to war, particularly a conflict in which people do not know the identities of fighters they encounter who can rob, kill, or kidnap. The uncertainty provokes total anxiety . . . I have seen a lot of conflict but I have hardly ever seen such a high level of anxiety in civilians as in Syria.”
UN Relief Agency: The facts
* Unrwa serves five million Palestinian refugees in four countries; 1.5 million live in camps
* Unrwa’s budget shortfall is $37.4 million
* Gaza emergency appeal shortfall is $127.2 million
* West Bank emergency appeal shortfall is $43.9 million
* Syria emergency appeal shortfall is $31.6 million
* 225,000 of the 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria are directly affected by the conflict.
* The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Pro- tection department donated more than €11 million to the agency’s humanitarian programmes this year.