Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations' Humanitarian Coordinator, speaks during a press conference in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, on March 14, 2018. The Palestinian government and the United Nations launched on Wednesday a 539.7-million-U.S. dollars appeal to address the urgent humanitarian needs of 1.9 million Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2018. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar)
GAZA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian government and the United Nations launched on Wednesday a 539.7-million-U.S. dollars appeal to address the urgent humanitarian needs of 1.9 million Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2018.
In a statement, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2018 was launched by Palestinian Minister of Social Development Ibrahim al-Shaer, and UN's Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick.
"If funding is secured, humanitarian actors will be able to enhance the protection of Palestinians living under military occupation, improve vulnerable people's access to basic services, and support the ability of Palestinians to cope with and overcome crises," the statement said.
For his part, Minister al-Shaer said lack of funding in recent years has led to unfortunate reductions in humanitarian relief for Palestinians in acute need across Gaza and the West Bank, including Jerusalem.
"We have also seen regrettable attempts to politicize aid work," he revealed.
McGoldrick, meanwhile, said this year's humanitarian plan was prepared as part of a three-year strategy.
"This approach enhances connections with other strategies, including those related to development efforts, while increased respect for international law and longer-term solutions are pursued," he said.
The 2018 plan consists of 240 projects to be implemented by 99 organizations, including 51 national and 35 international NGOs, and 13 UN agencies.
Approximately 75 percent of the requested funds target Gaza, where humanitarian needs are highest due to Israel's prolonged blockade and recurrent hostilities, further exacerbated by the impact of internal Palestinian divisions and Egypt's restrictions on the Rafah crossing, the statement said.
"Gaza teeters on the edge of a catastrophe," Minister al-Shaer said. "Humanitarian needs will deepen in the Gaza Strip, in both severity and complexity, as long as the illegal Israeli blockade remains."
He stressed that the Palestinian government is keen to build synergies between humanitarian aid and development cooperation in the occupied Palestinian territory, pointing out that ending the occupation is the most direct, practical and durable solution for Palestinian grievances.
Gaza has been placed under a tight Israeli blockade since Islamic Hamas movement seized the territory after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.
According to Gaza Commerce Chamber, unemployment rate in Gaza stands at 46 percent, while the rates of poverty have exceeded 65 percent.
The figures showed that there is a 50-percent increase in household food insecurity in Gaza, while local markets suffer from lack of purchasing power, leading to an acute shortage of cash.