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Monday, July 25, 2011

What if UNRWA issued an appeal and no one responded?

UNRWA issued an appeal for $300 million for all the 'poor Palestinians' in Gaza. But after cutting the appeal amount in half, they are still $35 million short, i.e. they have raised $115 million out of $300 million. Maybe this (from an interview with UNRWA director Chris Guness) has something to do with why.
There is also deep discontent about the removal of over 100,000 people from your food distribution lists. What is going on?

About 100,000 people have come off our food distribution lists because UNRWA is now using a more accurate poverty assessment system to determine eligibility for food assistance. This change in the eligibility system is meant to ensure that UNRWA can prioritize its resources on the poorest of the poor and avoid providing emergency poverty relief assistance to those who are not needy.

Many business people, wealthy merchants and property owners have come off the lists and interestingly very few people are complaining as the vast majority realize that the new system is much fairer. In this regard, the poverty survey represents a great improvement over the former system.

Thanks to the poverty survey UNRWA has been able to increase assistance to the abject poor (around 300,000 refugees) by doubling their rations.

Thousands of families who were poor and destitute but were excluded from UNRWA food assistance until now based on the previous income based system from the PA or UNRWA will be able to receive assistance. The food distributed to thousands of families who were not in need of assistance but received food until now can now be given to the poorest and most destitute refugees.

There are four categories of people who were eligible for food last round whose coupons have not been issued this food distribution round: 14,404 families who had not applied to the poverty survey by the middle of June despite each receiving a letter from UNRWA requesting them to apply over the last three months if they wished to continue being considered for food assistance; 9,251 families who applied to the poverty survey but were found to be non poor after the social worker visit; 1,388 families classified as abject or absolute poor by the poverty survey but failed to pick up their rations since the beginning of the year 2011, suggesting they may be out of Gaza; and 305 families who were found to be non poor after the second visit (complaint) and necessary verifications.

All families listed above with the exception of the 305 families in the last category can receive food this round upon applying for Poverty Survey, with their final poverty to be determined after reviewing their case through the poverty survey. If these families apply before the end of the month of July, UNRWA will ensure that they receive their food assistance during the month of Ramadan.
I would bet that those 14,404 families who didn't apply for the food assistance are also 'no longer in Gaza.' Could it be that UNRWA counts 'refugees' like Chicago counts Democratic voters?

Now, it goes without saying that UNRWA is blaming Israel and the 'siege' for this situation. But the 'Palestinians' themselves seem to be blaming UNRWA. In other words, the 'Palestinians' realize that UNRWA has changed the rules and have given some - albeit small - level of accountability. And they are furious about it.
The protesters who closed down UNRWA’s Gaza office say they were doing this to fight for the rights of the refugees whose assistance is being slashed. What's your response to this?

Gunness: This protest action was entirely counter-productive. By keeping hundreds of UNRWA staff out of their offices, the organizers were harming the very refugees on whose behalf they claim to be protesting. The Gaza office is the "command and control" center from which we run our programs across the entire Gaza Strip.

We need access to our computers to service projects, to manage our education, health, relief and social service programs. It's where the personnel department is based for, for example, paying staff salaries, it's where our IT department is, it's where the radio room is for security and without these things our full programs become unsustainable very quickly.
Heh. Read the whole thing.

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