SAUDI COMMITTEE DONATES SIX MILLION DOLLARS FOR FOOD AID TO PALESTINIANS
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - A Saudi Arabian relief organization today donated US$6.32 million to help the United Nations World Food Programme provide food assistance to hundreds of thousands of impoverished Palestinians.
The donation, announced today in Jeddah by the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinian People (SCRPP), will help the UN food aid agency cope with a deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian Territories, where the economy has been crumbling under strict Israeli security measures.
"This generous donation will help many Palestinians, who have lost their jobs and are slipping into poverty and hopelessness, meet their basic food needs. We are very grateful to the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinian People," said WFP Executive Director James Morris.
In September, WFP launched a US$41.6 million emergency operation to provide 78,000 tons of food assistance to nearly half a million poor Palestinians (135,500 in Gaza and 344,500 in the West Bank).
"Our operation is very important to help the most vulnerable Palestinians maintain their dignity. I call upon all countries to follow the example of Saudi Arabia and other donors and help us fully implement this operation," Morris said.
The donation of the SCRPP, which is led by Minister of Interior Prince Nayef ben Abdel Aziz, is the first non-governmental support WFP has received from Saudi Arabia. It will assist 200,000 Palestinian families. The money will be used to purchase nearly 9,000 tons of food including wheat flour, pulses, sugar, rice, milk, tea, and canned meat.
"We are fully aware that the increasing poverty among Palestinians is largely the outcome of the security measures and closures imposed by the Israelis. To put a real end to this escalating humanitarian crisis, there has to be a political solution to the problem, supported by both parties, but until such a resolution is reached, we cannot just let the Palestinian people go hungry," said WFP Country Director in the Palestinian Territories Jean-Luc Siblot.
Since it was established in 2000, SCRPP has donated some US$200 million to mitigate the humanitarian crisis of the Palestinian people. The Committee has provided cash and in-kind assistance in addition to funding educational and medical activities as well as reconstruction schemes.
Since 1966, Saudi Arabia has donated cash and in-kind food commodities worth over US$409 million to the World Food Programme.
In addition to direct food aid for poor and unemployed Palestinians, WFP uses innovative schemes in collaboration with community-based organizations to help maintain modest economic activities in the Territories.
In Gaza, it supports a project helping the families of some 5,000 fishermen who are seriously affected by restrictions imposed on the areas where they can fish. Another 7,000 Palestinian Bedouins in Gaza benefit from food-for-work and food-for-training projects. WFP has also been supporting the local olive industry as thousands of farmers face major obstacles in marketing their produce due to movement restrictions, closures and the construction of the Israeli Barrier in the West Bank. This year WFP purchased nearly 416 tons of Palestinian olive oil.
The WFP operation in the Palestinian Territories is currently short of about US$ 20 million. Donors so far include the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (US$6.32 million), the European Commission (US$6 million), ECHO (US$2 million), the United States (US$3.13 million), Switzerland (US$0.8 million) and Syria (US$324,000), in addition to multilateral donations of US$ 2.5 million.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.
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