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Funding shortage forces World Food Programme to suspend aid to Palestinians

The World Food Programme (WFP) will suspend food aid to over 200,000 Palestinians from next month due to a “severe” shortage of funds, the group’s senior official for the Palestinian territories said on Sunday, May 7.

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“In light of the severe funding shortages, WFP is forced to make painful choices to stretch the limited resources,” Samer Abdeljaber, the WFP’s country director, told Reuters by phone from Jerusalem.

“WFP would have to start suspending assistance to over 200,000 people, which is 60 percent of its current caseload, from June.”

The U.N. agency will continue its aid to 140,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank, said Abdeljaber, who added the suspension decision was taken to save those who are at the highest risk of not being able to afford their food.

Unless funding is received, WFP will be forced to suspend food and cash assistance entirely by August, he said.

The most impacted families are in Gaza, where food insecurity and poverty are the highest, and in the West Bank.

Gaza, which has been run by the Islamist Hamas group since 2007, is home to 2.3 million people, of which 45 percent are unemployed and 80 percent depend on international aid, according to Palestinian and U.N. records.

Citing security concerns with the enclave’s Hamas rulers, Israel has led a blockade together with Egypt that has put restrictions on the movement of people and goods for years.

The difference between life and death is 10 dollars

Chanting “No to Hunger” dozens of Palestinians staged a protest outside the WFP offices in Gaza City to protest the decision.

“The voucher is life, the message they sent us equals death since there is no other source of income,” said Faraj Al-Masri, a father of two, whose family gets vouchers worth USD 41.20 per month.

The United Nations agency offers impoverished Palestinians both monthly vouchers with a value of USD 10.30 per person and food baskets. Both programs will be affected.

This voucher is our only source of food, we don’t have any other source. I am jobless and if they don’t want to give us vouchers they have to create jobs for us,” Al-Masri said.

In Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, Jamalat El-Dabour, whose family receives USD 164.80 worth of vouchers per month, said they will “starve to death” as her husband was sick and unemployed. She expects that many other people in similar circumstances may resort to desperate steps.

“People may set fire to themselves or may jump off rooftops,” she said. “When a child is asking for food and we can’t find food what should we do? God knows I have nothing – not even a penny, I am waiting for the voucher any minute.”

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