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UN: Over 600,000 Palestinians in Urgent Need of Food Aid - 2002-07-11


The U.N. World Food Program said the economic situation in the Palestinian territories is getting worse. The WFP said 620,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are in urgent need of food aid.

The World Food Program said the food situation is particularly difficult in West Bank towns that have been re-occupied by the Israeli army. But it adds that the situation in the Gaza Strip is not much better. In both places, the food agency said, peoples' movements are restricted and getting around can often be dangerous.

WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume said even people with money have difficulty getting to the market to buy food during the daily lifting of the curfew Israel has imposed. And, she said the situation for those without money is even more critical.

"Since June and the full re-occupation of West Bank towns and part of Gaza, as well as the restoration of curfews, the deliveries and distributions have become increasingly unpredictable and difficult. The economic conditions of those that are in need are really rapidly deteriorating. The employment rate now is above 50 percent and that is very, very high. And, 45 to 50 percent of the population is now living below the poverty line," Ms. Berthiaume said.

The World Food Program assists one half million people in the territories.

A majority of them include so-called hardship cases, that is poor and destitute women who are heads of households, as well as people who are elderly or handicapped.