Middle East Monitor / March 19, 2020
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said yesterday that it urgently needed $14 million to prepare and respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
In an appeal posted on its website, the agency outlined the immediate priorities and financial requirements for health and other services related to the pandemic in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
“Overcrowded living conditions, physical and mental stress and years of protracted conflict all make the vulnerable population of over 5.6 million Palestine refugees particularly susceptible to the ongoing threats of COVID-19,” UNRWA Acting Commissioner-General Christian Saunders was quoted as saying.
“All of the Agency’s five fields’ host governments and authorities have announced a series of robust measures to cope with the spread of COVID-19, which UNRWA will follow and factor into its operations,” he added.
Saunders added: “Countless individuals and every government are involved in the massive global efforts to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and UNRWA, our staff and the Palestine refugee community we serve, are no different.”
He continued: “I humbly call on donors, whether governments, foundations or individuals, to help UNRWA face what could become a disaster of unconscionable proportions in places like Gaza and Syria.”
“COVID-19 has illustrated that no population is exempt and for a densely populated area like Gaza, already weakened by years of blockade, this could be disastrous.”
Saunders stressed that “Gaza simply does not have the resources and means to weather such a story. Any contribution is gratefully received, every penny will make a difference.”