Palestinians increasingly donor-dependent

Palestinian refugees wait to receive urgent food rations form a UN food distribution center in the Beach refugee camp, Gaza City, March 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

JERUSALEM (IRIN) - The European Commission (EC) on 16 June announced a 24 million euro donation to humanitarian programs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

About half of the money would go to the West Bank and half to the Gaza Strip, a senior EC official said, noting that even though only about a third of the population lives in the coastal enclave, the humanitarian situation there was more severe.

This was the second half of the EC’s humanitarian contribution to the OPT for 2008: in January 29 million euros were allocated for food aid and food security projects. Of the 53 million euro total, 54 percent went directly to meet the funding needs outlined in the multi-agency Consolidated Appeal for 2008.

“The 24 million euros will go for cash for work programs, water and sanitation projects, health support and protection work,” said Herve Caiveau, from the EC’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) in Jerusalem.

He said the money would go to UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, including the UN Children’s Fund’s psycho-social program, which helps children who suffer as a result of conflict and violence in the OPT.

The EC said it is giving special attention to children in the conflict.

Water, sanitation funding gap

Of the US$461.9 million asked for in the CAP, $42.9 million was for water and sanitation. Experts said CAP funding this year was good — with some 45 percent funded as of this month, compared to just 29 percent this time last year — but water and sanitation had only received four percent of the requested amount.

“In general, long term development is underfunded as donors are being careful not to fund non-emergency projects within the confines of the CAP,” said a senior aid official.

For example, while 56 percent of requested funds for food aid had been met, only 13 percent of the agricultural projects’ needs had been contributed so far.

Some aid workers said the tendency to give short-term relief aid at the expense of development was leading to further aid dependency, especially in the already donor dependent OPT.

Since 2006, the EC states it has given some 206 million euros in humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the OPT and elsewhere in the region.

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