Islamic Relief USA Supports UNRWA

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Washington, DC

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) recently announced an agreement for the provision of emergency food assistance and emergency non-food items (NFIs), worth a total of US$ 6,000,000, to Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip. The IRUSA contribution will provide three months coverage of food needs to 140,729 individuals and distribution of NFIs to 11,735 families.

This contribution is part of a continued commitment to partner with UNRWA. From 2012-2013, IRUSA contributed nearly $2 million to support UNRWA’s efforts in Gaza and Syria.

On 8th July 2014, Robert Turner, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip following a severe escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel. The conflict exacerbates an already dire humanitarian situation for the people of Gaza. In the last seven years, unemployment rates in Gaza have oscillated over 30 percent – reaching 40.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, the highest unemployment level recorded in Gaza since 2009. In turn, the majority of the population have been pushed into poverty and food insecurity, with no other choice but to rely heavily on assistance to cover their essential needs. Seventy-four percent of households reported receiving at least one form of assistance in 2012.

This contribution is framed within UNRWA Gaza’s Emergency Food Assistance Programme, which aims at easing the severity of food insecurity among poor Palestine refugee families in Gaza through ensuring safe, nutritious, and regular access to food. This objective is achieved by providing the most vulnerable population with in-kind food assistance. The NFI contribution will ensure that those Palestine refugee families displaced by the on-going military operation are able to maintain their basic personal comfort and dignity.

"The dedication and professionalism of UNRWA staff during the ongoing crisis has been nothing short of heroic," said Anwar Khan, CEO of Islamic Relief USA. "We are proud to continue our partnership with one of the only organizations that is able to consistently and effectively send aid into Gaza. The scale of humanitarian suffering in Gaza is heart breaking, but together we are providing a ray of hope for the people there by providing critically needed aid."

Since 1993, IRUSA has worked tirelessly around the world to alleviate poverty, suffering, hunger and illiteracy. This major US charity is a long-standing partner of UNRWA in the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

As poor and vulnerable households in the Gaza struggle to make ends meet, the dedication and generosity of IRUSA is critical. Partnering with Islamic Relief USA has opened opportunities for UNRWA to engage with Islamic Relief in the UK, Canada and France, and with Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 68 million.

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