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UN Launches Aid Campaign for Palestinian Refugees - 2003-06-06

The United Nations has launched an urgent appeal for food, shelter and medical care for Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank.

This is the sixth time since the intifada broke out in late 2000, that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has launched an emergency appeal for Palestinian refugees.

The head of the agency, Peter Hansen, said it needs $103 million until the end of the year to help more than one million Palestinian refugees who have no other means of support.

"We all are excited about the 'road map' and hope that it will bring us forward," said Mr. Hansen. "But, even if peace would break out tomorrow, we can look forward to an unfortunately long period of great need on the part of the Palestinian population. We are still talking about a humanitarian crisis with very few signs of abating. If anything, matters have gone from bad to worse over this period."

Mr. Hansen says money is needed to provide food, repair damaged houses and create jobs.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency has a yearly budget of $400 million. With that it provides education, health and social services to more than four million Palestinian refugees throughout the region. But Mr. Hansen says the regular budget is not enough to deal with the economic crisis that has hit the territories since the beginning of the intifada 32 months ago.