Today, the EU has increased its humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in Palestine by €8 million, taking the total to €34.4 million this year. The additional funding will be dedicated to supporting victims of the recent violence. EU humanitarian funding for 2021 will help protect the most vulnerable Palestinians, provide life-saving assistance and uphold human dignity.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: "Following the announcement of a ceasefire, urgent humanitarian access is now vital, to relieve the suffering of the many innocent victims. Nothing can bring back the many civilian lives that were taken in this latest conflict – and we are dismayed at the deaths of so many children, including 11 children in Gaza who were benefiting from a trauma care programme supported by the EU. The EU is maintaining critical support for protection programmes, health care, education, access to safe water and cash assistance. The EU insists on respect for international humanitarian law and cannot accept that civilians are displaced by force or that their homes and schools are demolished.”
The funding announced today includes €8 million in emergency assistance, and €200,000 in support of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in delivering immediate assistance through 24/7 emergency medical services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It also includes €300,000 to support Palestinians refugees in Egypt and a contribution of €500,000 from Italy.
Already affected by movement restrictions before the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 has further aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The recent violence has left more than 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, including children benefitting from an EU-funded humanitarian programme (figures 23 May) dead. Over 100 000 have fled their homes across Gaza and are sheltering in schools or with other families.
Of the 2.5 million Palestinians in need of humanitarian aid, 1.57 million live under closure in the Gaza Strip, where living conditions have rapidly deteriorated over the past year. In addition to creating safe education spaces and opportunities for vulnerable children, the EU is stepping up its cash assistance to the most vulnerable.
In February 2021, Israeli forces confiscated and demolished several structures belonging to Palestinian families in Hamsa al-Foqa in the northern Jordan Valley. This followed another major demolition affecting the same community in early November 2020. Structures funded by the EU and its Member States were affected in both cases.
In addition to the funding announced today, in response to the violence across Palestine and the high number of civilian casualties the European Commission swiftly reprogrammed €100,000 from the ongoing actions implemented by the World Health Organization to respond to the initial emergency health needs. On March 21 2021, the Palestinian authority started its COVID-19 vaccination campaign after receiving vaccines through the COVAX facility. The EU and its member states are a leading contributor to COVAX with over €2.2 billion.
In the West Bank, the EU and several Member States continue supporting a consortium of humanitarian partners protecting communities threatened by demolitions, evictions and settler violence, through legal and material assistance. Funding also goes to improving the access of students to schooling against a backdrop of ongoing violations against the right to education. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the EU has funded screening in healthcare facilities, hygiene materials for schools and examination centres, improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene for vulnerable communities, and stepped up cash transfers.
To alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable Palestinians, EU humanitarian aid supports numerous implementing partners in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), both United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations. Since 2000, the European Union has provided more than €818 million in humanitarian assistance to help meet the basic needs of the Palestinian population.