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UN to distribute Qatar cash aid to Gaza

Workers of United Nations Palestine Refugee Agency (UNRWA) prepare aids distribute to Palestinian refugees in Al-Shati Camp in Gaza City, Gaza on January 14, 2020 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]
Workers of United Nations Palestine Refugee Agency (UNRWA) prepare aid to distribute to families in Gaza on 14 January 2020 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

The UN will begin distributing aid to thousands of poor families in the besieged Gaza Strip today under a programme funded by Qatar, the organisation's Middle East envoy announced on Sunday.

Under a revised funding scheme coordinated by Qatar and the UN, and supported by Israel, cash will be given out at more than 700 distribution points throughout the besieged territory.

Nearly 100,000 beneficiaries will begin to receive the cash aid, said UN envoy Tor Wennesland on Twitter. The money is part of a $360 million grant pledged in January by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, to the Palestinians in Gaza.

Qatar was also due to provide aid to the Gaza Strip under an agreement to pay low-income families and employees, through banks within the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. The deal fell through when the PA backed out, fearing that it could be a target of sanctions for transferring money to "terror groups".

Following Israel's military offensive against Gaza in May, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wanted to establish a new mechanism for the entry of aid to the besieged Strip. He claimed that Hamas would use financial aid for resistance activities.

According to Bennett, the payments would be made in vouchers, not in cash as claimed by the UN official. "The grant is being transferred in vouchers and not in suitcases of cash as has happened in the past," said Bennett's office. When asked about the discrepancy, his office declined to comment, reported Al Jazeera.

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International OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineQatarUN
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