Despite pledges UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees faces funding shortage

In its progress report for the month of October, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says pledges to its Third Emergency Appeal, issued last June, had risen to $55.4 million. However, only $23.9 million had been received so far, with another $31 million outstanding at the time the report was completed. The report says UNRWA has distributed over 674,000 food rations to over 123,000 families in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the crisis. It has also given $1.9 million to more than 5,784 families, including 233 families who have lost their breadwinner and 688 families whose breadwinners have sustained serious injuries. In all, $580,000 has been granted as relocation fees to over 1,400 families forced to vacate their homes as a result of Israeli shelling and bulldozing.UNRWA staff have also been personally affected by the fighting. On 20 October, an Agency physician was struck by gunfire in the Beirt Jibrin refugee camp while tending to an injured person, according to the report. An ambulance driver who later returned to the scene to retrieve a stretcher and the doctor’s medical bag was also hit by gunfire. Nevertheless, UNRWA-supported mobile clinics visited 77 villages and treated a total of 9,737 patients in the West Bank during the month of October. The Agency’s schools were equally disrupted by the violence in October, with more than 31,000 students losing between 1 and 9 days in the classroom. To respond to the psychological needs of children enrolled in its schools, UNRWA had 33 counsellors on hand in the West Bank to deal with children suffering from post-traumatic stress. read more