Monday, January 5, 2009

US State Department: US Support for Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2009 -- The following news release made available Monday by the U.S. State Department is the text of a statement regarding U.S. Government support for humanitarian assistance activities in Gaza:
The United States Government continues to support the delivery of urgently needed food, health, shelter and other emergency assistance to the people of Gaza through our ongoing support for international organizations such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Food Program (WFP), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

On December 30, the United States announced a contribution to UNRWA for its 2009 appeals. Of the $85 million contribution, $5 million will directly support UNRWA’s Gaza Flash Appeal that will provide food, temporary shelter, and medical assistance for over 500,000 conflict-affected refugees in Gaza. The Flash Appeal funding will also supply up to 500,000 liters of fuel to municipalities and utilities for basic public services, including electricity and water treatment. $20 million will support UNRWA’s 2009 Emergency Appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, of which a large portion bolsters UNRWA’s ongoing emergency assistance activities for more than 1 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza. $60 million will support UNRWA’s General Fund for the provision of education, primary health care, and relief services to Palestinian refugees in the region, including Gaza.

The United States Government continues to provide food assistance through the World Food Program (WFP) to 20,000 non-refugee Palestinian households in Gaza with a bi-monthly package of five basic foods. Since December 28, WFP and its implementing partner, Community Housing Foundation (CHF), have distributed some 720 metric tons (MT) of food commodities to beneficiaries in Gaza. An additional 1,350 MT is available in Gaza for distribution when the security situation allows.

The United States Government also continues to support the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC 's) efforts to supply Gaza’s hospitals and clinics with urgently needed medicines, surgery kits, hygiene kits, intravenous fluids, bandages, plastic sheeting and other medical equipment. The ICRC is bringing two generators into Gaza to ensure continued operation of Gaza’s hospitals despite electricity cuts and maintenance problems resulting from a lack of spare parts.

The United States Government has provided other medical and food supplies to health care facilities in Gaza, including syringes, tubes, gloves, x-ray film, tape, silk for sutures and bedding (mattresses, blankets and linens), and 18,000 kilograms of plastic sheeting to cover broken windows and help mitigate the cold.

The United States is the largest bilateral donor to UNRWA, which provides essential services to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and elsewhere.

The United States is deeply concerned about the safety of civilians caught up in this conflict, and urges all sides to facilitate the provision of humanitarian relief.
(Report from a U.S. State Department news release.)

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