London, (Islamic Help):
The United Nations has praised a Birmingham charity and its humanitarian partners for their relief efforts in Gaza.
Islamic Help is part of a five-strong coalition of international charities which have been providing aid for Gaza during the conflict and after the indefinite ceasefire came into effect on August 26.
More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed and 10,000 injured during the 50-day conflict. More than 500,000 – 28% of Gaza’s population – were displaced during the fighting and nearly 18,000 homes were destroyed along with dozens of schools and medical facilities.
As well as co-ordinating aid efforts with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Muslim relief coalition has donated US $500,000 (£300,000) to UNRWA for humanitarian assistance and to help the recovery of Gaza.
Along with Islamic Help, the coalition includes United Muslim Relief, Baitulmaal, Life for Relief and Development and the London-based Muslim Community and Education Centre.
The agreement was signed at the UN in Washington and Matthew Reynolds, UNRWA’s Representative Office director, said: “This generous donation from the Muslim relief coalition for Gaza is a timely response to the on-going humanitarian crisis that has resulted from 50 days of conflict in Gaza.
“UNRWA is so grateful for this generous donation, not only because it will allow us to continue our crucial work on the ground, but also because of the impact it will make on every refugee and internally displaced person seeking shelter in our facilities today.
“This contribution is a beacon of hope in the midst of a warzone, and we sincerely hope this is the beginning of an enthusiastic partnership.”
UNRWA has responsibility for assistance and protection to a population of about 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, it has been struggling financially as demands for its services increase – its general fund for core activities is 97% reliant on voluntary contributions and currently has a US $56 million deficit.
Almost 60,000 people in Gaza are still sheltered in UNRWA schools and almost its entire population is turning to the UN for food rations.
“With nearly 41 per cent unemployment even before the current conflict, the economy is in shambles. This donation will be used to provide food assistance, non-food items such as fuel, and psycho-social support for children in the Gaza Strip,” said Mr Reynolds.
“In the current circumstances, the contribution from the coalition of Muslim relief organisations provides much needed assistance to the UNRWA humanitarian response.”
Islamic Help and coalition spokesman Oussama Mezoui said: “In working together with UNRWA, which has a proven track record in Gaza, we can ensure that essential aid is getting to those most in need. The first stage is to work on the emergency response and to ensure families are fed, provided with clean water, and have access to essential healthcare. Once this is done, we will look to work on reconstruction projects that will enable Gaza to get back on its feet.”
As well emergency relief for Gaza, Islamic Help has separately launched an appeal to fund the construction of a water plant at Wadi as Salqa. It will replace the facility destroyed in an Israeli air strike and serve nearly 10,000 people daily