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Gaza: WFP Appeals For More Funds As Hunger Rises

Gaza: UN food agency appeals for more funds as number of hungry rises

11 January 2008 - Twenty-two per cent more people in Gaza now need food aid following the closure of the Karni border crossing with Israel last June, according to a recent study by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

Overall, nearly the entire population of some 1.5 million people could be affected in one way or another by the closures, imposed after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2006.

The number of non-refugees that WFP is helping has now risen to more than 300,000. The agency has increased its Gaza funding appeal from $107 million to $141 million. So far $45 million has been donated, but without further offers soon, WFP warned that it would be forced to begin cutting back its operations starting in March.

Over the past several months UN officials have repeatedly appealed for the re-opening of the crossing. The latest findings showed that some 210,000 individuals (refugees and non-refugees) had been directly affected by the embargo.

"This figure could mean that a staggering 1,449,800 people, almost the entirety of the Gaza Strip population (considering the household size of 6.9 members) is currently being affected directly and indirectly by the closure," the survey reported, adding that only 10 per cent of Gazan families have more than one breadwinner while 90 per cent either have one breadwinner or none.

"If the status quo is maintained, the economic disintegration will continue and wider segments of the Gazan population will be become vulnerable. The unemployment levels will most likely increase to include the overwhelming majority of private sector workers," it said.

If this scenario materializes, virtually all of Gaza's population "will become highly or totally dependant on humanitarian assistance in the form of food aid as well as non-food interventions," such as cash assistance, health subsidies, job creation and labour support.

ENDS

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