The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority have appealed for $350m in aid for Palestinians in 2019, saying they needed more but had to be “realistic” following major aid cuts by the United States.
The UN said the appeal, down from $539 million in 2018, was due to a lack of available donor funds to support 1.4 million Palestinians through more than 200 projects.
Earlier this year, the US cut almost all of its aid to Palestinians, having previously provided around $500 million a year through different mechanisms including the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.
UNRWA supports nearly five million Palestinian refugees around the world.
The UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019 focused on Palestinians most in need of food, healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation, said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
McGoldrick said the UN had to be more “realistic” when asking for funds due to a lack of donors following the US move.
“We have taken this humanitarian response plan to the most focused and prioritised it could possibly be,” he said on Monday at the launch of the appeal in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
McGoldrick said local aid work took a particularly hard hit this year with “record-low funding”.
Massive US aid cuts
Washington promised $365m to UNRWA in 2018 but paid only a first instalment of $60m before announcing in August that it would halt all future donations.
The move was widely seen as a means of pressuring the Palestinian leadership to enter peace negotiations with Israel.
Palestinian Social Development Minister Ibrahim al-Shaer said on Monday they would not give in to the pressure.
“The position of the Palestinian people, its leadership and its government is that we will not drop our legitimate rights for aid and money,” he said.
The UN said the majority of its funds will go to the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinians, more than two-thirds of whom rely on aid, live crammed into a small territory under an Israeli blockade.
With its economy in a free fall and tensions with Israel rising, Gaza is imploding, UN envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, had warned in October.