Thirty-five institutions benefitting from the World Food Programme (WFP) in the besieged Gaza Strip have demanded the immediate retraction of its recent decision to stop all food aid starting at the beginning of this month.
During a press conference held this morning at the Al-Amal Institute for Orphans in Gaza, the institutions said: “We were surprised a few days ago to hear that the WFP’s administration decided to stop the programme. We had sent several letters in the past to the WFP administration urging them to improve the programme, not end it.”
The institutions believe that this decision violates the agreement signed between the Ministry of Social Development, the benefitting institutions and the WFP, which stipulates the programme will continue to 31 December 2017.
The institutions also explained that since 2014, the WFP administration reduced the number of institutions benefitting from the programme from 56 to 35, while the number of beneficiaries was reduced over the years to 4,000 people after the 2014 war on Gaza.
They also noted that at the beginning of 2015, the bread project provided as part of the aid was turned into a flour project and the amounts provided were reduced, as well as the batches provided, which were reduced from six to four batches a year.
During the second half of 2015, the food aid was reduced by 30 per cent, while at the beginning of 2016, it was reduced by 50 per cent, and later by 65 per cent.
Head of Al-Amal Orphans Institute, Dr Abdelmajed Al-Khudar, told Al-Rai that this decision was made “in light of the deterioration of food security in the Gaza Strip, which has reached over 70 per cent. It also comes at a time of deteriorated economic situation and a suffocating blockade on our people, in addition to a lack of funding from the donor institutions and the increase in poverty rate, reaching 68 per cent.”
He warned against the negative consequences of stopping the WFP, which would affect marginalised and poor individuals. He also noted that completely stopping the programme would further worsen the economic situation, undermine food security and intensify the harsh living conditions suffered by the poorest families.
Al-Khudar also noted that stopping the food programme would lead a large number of charities to shut down, forcing people out of employment, increasing the unemployment rate of Palestinians.