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More support for Palestinian refugees

More support for Palestinian refugees

New Zealand will give $400,000 to the United Nations agency providing food aid and other humanitarian relief to Palestinians refugees, Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff announced in Ramallah overnight (NZT).

The one-off payment is on top of the annual $300,000 payment that New Zealand's aid agency, NZAID, makes to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Mr Goff has been visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and on Thursday saw at first hand some of the work undertaken by UNWRA, which was established in 1949 to provide health, education, humanitarian relief and social services.

“Given the present tensions in the region, UNRWA is facing significant challenges in getting food, water and basic services to families," Mr Goff said.

"Malnutrition rates are high, rubbish and sanitation facilities are stretched in the camps, and disease levels have risen in recent months.

“It is clear that extreme poverty and a lack of access to basic services contributes to unrest and the potential for more violence. Stability in the region must remain a priority.”

Mr Goff's visit to the region comes at a time of increased international engagement on the Arab-Israel conflict.

“Just over three weeks ago I welcomed the release of the Roadmap. My visit gives me a chance to hear first-hand the perspectives of both sides on the path towards a peaceful resolution.

“Since the Roadmap was published, there have been a number of violent incidents in which both Israelis and Palestinians have died. However violence must not be allowed to deflect the resolve of both sides to take advantage of this opportunity to move forward," Mr Goff said.

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