Fighting between Israeli and Hamas forces has left thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hungry, thirsty, sick and afraid. Even before the recent attacks, conditions in Gaza were grim. Over the last month they have deteriorated, as the damage caused by shelling, the frequent closure of border crossings, and the theft of relief supplies by Hamas has limited the amount of relief that reached needy people.
In addition to working diplomatically to achieve a ceasefire, the United States government has contributed almost $60 million for the provision of food, potable water, medicine, and plastic sheeting for emergency shelter needs.
The United States government does not run refugee camps in Gaza, nor supply food directly. Instead, in keeping with our commitment to multilateral institutions, we contribute money to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Food Program, and other international and non-governmental organizations that work in Gaza. We co-operate with these groups to ensure the U.S. taxpayer money goes to relieve suffering, and not to corruption, or (in the case of Gaza) to Hamas militants.
to hungry Palestinians in Gaza has been a high priority. Since late December, UNRWA has been distributing meal rations to between 25,000- 30,000 people each day. Despite problems with access, UNRWA has imported 262 metric tons of cooking gas and 10,760 metric tons of grain since the crisis began. USAID has contributed $1.6 million to the World Food Program to deliver over 1,663 metric tons of food rations – flour, vegetable oil, chickpeas, sugar and salt – to over 21,000 needy families in Gaza City, Khan Younis and North Gaza. In the same period, USAID bought and facilitated the delivery of 1,695 large cans of milk powder for families with small children.
Another pressing need has been shelter
. At the height of the crisis, UNRWA housed over 50,000 displaced people at over 50 facilities in Gaza.
The US has also worked with UNRWA and non-governmental organizations such as Mercy Corps, Catholic Relief Services and CARE International to provide candles, soap, blankets, batteries, and diapers to Palestinians facing shortages of practically everything.
Many Palestinians are also in urgent need of medical care. Here again UNRWA has been active, with a network of clinics and a staff of local doctors and nurses. In the first three days of February, UNRWA medical officers treated over 66,000 patients in clinic and hospital visits. USAID has bought hospital supplies such as gauze, syringes, tubes, X-ray film, tape, disinfectant, and silk for sewing up sutures.
The needs of Gaza’s Palestinians remain acute. There continue to be major problems with access for humanitarian goods and the continued dependence of over 90 percent of the Gaza population on international assistance.