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EU donates $0.6m to support UNRWA coronavirus safety measures

September 15, 2020 at 3:50 pm

UNRWA distributes food aid to families in Gaza, 2 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The European Union (EU) has contributed €500,000 ($594,897) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to improve hygiene and sanitation measures in the occupied West Bank.

This new contribution will ensure the health and safety of Palestine refugees, including special risk mitigation measures to avoid overcrowding at distribution centres and the safe provision of food assistance and PPE for frontline staff, reported Wafa news agency.

Gwyn Lewis, director of West Bank Operations for UNRWA, said: “We are extremely grateful for the EU’s humanitarian support.”

“Many Palestine refugees in home quarantine are struggling to make ends meet. Providing basic hygiene materials not only ensures that families have what they need at home to protect themselves, but also reduces the economic burden they experience, which means that they can afford to stay at home.”

READ: Gaza records 2 deaths, 100 infections from coronavirus

The aid will also help families suffering from difficult economic conditions with much-needed hygiene items, especially in areas that have recorded an increase in COVID-19 infections.

In the occupied West Bank, 35,663 cases have been confirmed along with 214 deaths. This includes 8,550 cases in East Jerusalem, while the Hebron governorate has been the hardest hit.

The Palestinian Authority has imposed lockdowns on badly affected areas and a ban on public gatherings including weddings and graduation parties. In Gaza, 1,631 cases have been reported and 11 deaths.

Palestine refugee camps have seen an increase in the amount of waste produced due to recent lockdowns imposed by local authorities, which has resulted in an additional burden on UNRWA environmental health labourers.

This grant will allow the agency to hire the additional labourers it needs to keep the camps clean and safe for Palestine refugees.

UNRWA was created in 1949 to provide assistance and protection for the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes by the Zionist gangs prior to the creation of the state of Israel on the ruins of their homes.

The organisation is currently offering its services to about 5.3 million Palestinians refugees in the occupied territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. However, it has been suffering a severe financial crisis since 2018 due to the halt of US contributions.