UN warns of Palestinian aid crisis
By James Rodgers, BBC correspondent in Gaza

BBC News Online
10 February 2003

url: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2743597.stm

The United Nations has warned that its emergency food programme for
Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is in jeopardy.

Unless donor countries come up with more money, it says, the refugees
face further malnutrition and disease.

Many Palestinians live in cramped refugee camps The UN says it
iscurrently feeding over a million Palestinian refugees in the West
Bankand Gaza.

This year, their appeal for more than $90m dollars appears to have
fallen on deaf ears.
They say they have received nothing - and only a fraction of the sum has
even been promised.

Peter Hansen, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA),
told the BBC that donor countries were waiting to see what funds might
be needed in Iraq.

Social schemes at risk

It is not only the emergency food programme which is in jeopardy. The UN
says it is already cutting back its employment generation schemes and
projects for re-housing refugees made homeless again by the current
conflict are being shelved.

Mr Hanson is predicting that the hardship will not be tolerated
indefinitely, warning of what he calls an explosion in the population if
the necessary funds are not forthcoming.

A Christian Aid report, published last month, said that three quarters
of Palestinians now live on less than two dollars a day.

Official Palestinian figures put the unemployment rate at close to 70%.
Job opportunities in the West Bank and Gaza are almost non-existent. As
a result, the UN says, the demands on its services have increased
dramatically in the last two years.