The Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said on Monday that the number of needy Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip has increased by 80,000 to 800,000 during the period of the ongoing Israeli siege.
Speaking during his meeting with the EU foreign affairs committee in Brussels, Pierre Krähenbühl said that the situation in the region is passing through dire political and economic problems and the number of refugees signals a tragic situation for the whole region.
"The absence of a political solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pushes radical speech and religious extremism which threatens the Palestinians and all nations in the region," said the UN official.
Replying to a question about the feasibility of continuing UNRWA's aid to refugees in the light of the absence of a political solution on the ground, Krähenbühl pointed out that EU member-states have already reduced their humanitarian aid for Palestinians to UNRWA precisely because of the absence of a vision on the ground. He called for donor states to distinguish between political positions and humanitarian aid. "These cannot be lumped together," he insisted.
UNRWA classifies families with less than $1.5 income for each member per day as being under the official poverty line. Those families with more than $3 per person per day are regarded as "poor".