Norway has called for more aid to support the struggling economy of the occupied Palestinian territories in the face of the coronavirus crisis, Haaretz has reported. The Palestinian Authority estimates that it needs $120 million to respond to the pandemic, but Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide expects the needs to grow as the measures already taken to prevent the spread hit the Palestinian economy and budget.
"We need to work together to prevent this from being a bigger humanitarian and health disaster than we think it can be, especially in Gaza, but also in the West Bank," Søreide told Reuters. "We are urging donors to step up their efforts both through the World Bank and also directly to the Palestinians."
She urged donors to deliver on previous commitments, including to the United Nations and non-governmental organisations, and step up their efforts.
"A significant drop in revenues to the Palestinian Authority as a result of the coronavirus crisis will have dramatic consequences for the Palestinian economy and for living conditions in Palestine," said Søreide. "I am particularly concerned about the possible spread of the coronavirus in Gaza and in the Palestine refugee camps. The international community must provide support too."
Norway chairs the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which is the international donor group for the Palestinians. Last year, Norway's capital and largest city, Oslo, became the sixth Norwegian municipality to ban settlement goods and services, along with one county council.
Fifteen new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the occupied West Bank today, raising the total number of known infections in Palestine to 252, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Concerns are particularly high in the West Bank's crowded refugee camps and the densely populated and impoverished Gaza Strip, where the ministry revealed that as of 27 March, at least 13 people had officially tested positive for the virus, six of whom have since recovered. The besieged enclave is expected to see the collapse of its health system.