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Palestinian Refugees Worsening Health Conditions

UN voices concern over worsening health conditions of Palestinian refugees

20 May 2008 - Calling for a boost in funding to continue its operations, a United Nations agency expressed its concern over the deteriorating heath conditions of Palestinian refugees, especially in the West Bank and Gaza, in a new report launched today.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in the report that many Palestinian refugee families must now spend nearly two-thirds of their incomes on food.

Rising poverty rates and the lack of access to quality food are further threatening their health, Guido Sabatinelli, UNRWA's Director of Health Services, told reporters in Geneva today. The agency has also witnessed an increase in diabetes, hypertension, post-traumatic stress and other behavioural disorders related to the violence.

Though a network of 129 health clinics and 11 mobile clinics, UNRWA was able to provide 9 million health consultations to the refugees, he said, adding that the agency was satisfied that it has full control over communicable diseases, with no epidemic outbreaks.

Surging prices globally have impeded UNRWA's ability to provide all the medicines necessary to refugees. With its staff encountering problems of access, the agency has also found its ability to assist those in need has been impeded.

UNRWA is appealing for a further 30 per cent of their budget to be able to provide the same level of services to 4 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.

ENDS

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