Gaza: UN issues emergency appeal, begins airlift to meet urgent humanitarian needs

Palestinian families take shelter at an UNRWA school in Gaza City (13 July 2014). Photo: Shareef Sarhan/UNRWA

21 July 2014 – The United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees has issued an emergency appeal for $60 million to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, including tens of thousands who have fled their homes in the wake of the current Israeli military offensive.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) also noted today the number of displaced people seeking safety in its facilities exceeds 84,000 and may soon reach 100,000.

In response to the growing needs of civilians affected by the latest conflict, aid agencies have mobilized relief supplies from the International Humanitarian City (IHC), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

A special airlift in support of displaced families in Gaza began on Sunday from Dubai, where a 747 cargo took off carrying 115 metric tons of aid, containing 45,000 mattresses, 10,000 blankets and 220 hygiene kits. The plane landed at Marka International Airport in Amman earlier today.

“We are very grateful for the immediate reaction and most generous response we received from Dubai and all the IHC members to our call for help. The Dubai airlift is one of the best examples of how effective humanitarians can be when working together,” said UNRWA Commissioner General, Pierre Krähenbühl.

In the coming days, more airlifts are scheduled to arrive in Amman, from where UNRWA will truck the aid into Gaza for distribution. UNRWA plans to expand the scope of the donations to include emergency food parcels as stocks of food and other essential goods dwindle.

The main priority for humanitarian agencies continues to be the provision of food, water, mattresses and hygiene items, as well as fuel for essential water, health and sewage facilities.

The World Food Programme (WFP) continues to provide daily food rations, together with UNRWA, and more than 50,000 people have received emergency assistance in the last 24 hours.

WFP is distributing daily food rations to more than 2,000 hospital patients and staff across the Gaza Strip. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and other partners on the most urgent health needs.

On the diplomatic front, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Egypt today as part of a regional visit to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians and help bring about a ceasefire.

“The Secretary-General is here to support the efforts to stop the fighting in Gaza and the rocket attacks in Israel. He is indeed very grateful to the Government of Egypt, the Egyptian leadership, in mediating a durable ceasefire,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters from Cairo.


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