BRUSSELS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a €1 million contribution from Belgium to support 180,000 of the most vulnerable non-refugee Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Belgian donation will help WFP provide critical food and nutrition assistance through monthly food distributions, rations and cash-based transfers using electronic vouchers as well as nutrition awareness training for pregnant and nursing women.
Those people receiving WFP food assistance, provided jointly with the UN's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), include 30,000 people from the Bedouin and herding communities living in area C of the West Bank, under Israeli control. The food assistance for this group also helps build resilience and improves their livelihoods, access to services and protection – since they are at risk of imminent transfer.
“Tackling food insecurity is one of the priorities of Belgium’s humanitarian assistance,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation for Belgium Alexander De Croo. “Through our support for the WFP’s cash-based transfers we address the nutritional needs of food insecure Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.”
WFP is particularly appreciative of Belgium’s longstanding support in Palestine, and for the flexibility of its donation which enables WFP to address people’s most urgent food needs.
“Belgium is a trusted, reliable and flexible WFP partner in Palestine,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Palestine Daniela Owen. “This strong partnership has made a substantial difference in people’s lives, as well as increasing their resilience in the face of socio-economic hardship.”
Food insecurity in Palestine is driven by limited ability to purchase food, due to restrictions of movement, trade and investment, as well as high unemployment rates. In this context, WFP’s assistance is critical to meet their immediate food needs and prevent further deterioration in their lives.
Today, more than 27 percent of the Palestinian population - or 1.6 million people - are food insecure. The situation is most acute in Gaza, among non-refugees: nearly half are food insecure, and one in four are so severely affected that they require urgent food assistance. In the West Bank, 17 percent are food insecure, 6 percent of whom are severely food insecure.
WFP continues to link its assistance to supporting local production by using its purchasing power as a means of promoting agricultural development and connecting small-scale producers, food-processors, retailers and consumers. WFP aims to boost the Palestinian economy and recovery of Gaza in particular by using local suppliers and retail shops for purchasing and distributing locally-produced commodities.
Since 2011, thanks to the support of Belgium and other partners, WFP has injected more than €160 million (US$200 million) into the Palestinian economy, including nearly €100 million (US$125 million) through electronic vouchers or cash-based transfers.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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For more information on WFP’s activities in Palestine, visit http://www.wfp.org/countries/palestine