The Austrian government signed, on Thursday, a treaty with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the amount of one million euros ($1,144,995.00 USD), in response to the emergency appeal, the UN Agency announced.

This honorable contribution will be used to relieve the critical humanitarian catastrophe for Palestinian refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip, which has deteriorated over the course of 2021.

The 16 year long blockade imposed by the occupation restricting the freedom of movement of people, and the limitation of imports and exports into and out of the region greatly frustrates the socio-economic potential.

The 11 days of brutal Israeli aggression in May of 2021 in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified the crisis.

The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip, at the end of 2021 was an estimated 50%, which has led to a deterioration in social and economic circumstances, leading to a mental health emergency.

UNRWA will use these generous contributions from the Austrian government to provide Palestinian refugees in Gaza with humanitarian services which will include emergency food aid, mental health and social support services.

The agreement was signed in East Jerusalem by the Austrian representative in Ramallah, Astrid Wein, who recognized the demand for humanitarian relief in the Gaza Strip.

“Austria reaffirms its full and continued support to UNRWA; this contribution to the 2022 Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory will enable UNRWA to continue to provide food assistance to 1.2 million Palestine refugees in West Bank and Gaza, and equally important to provide and mainstream mental health and psychosocial support within its services. These interventions are urgently needed to strengthen the resilience of Palestine refugees, especially after the May 2021 Gaza war and hostilities in the West Bank, which have caused not only humanitarian crises, but also socio-economic de-development and trauma.”

~ Austrian representative in Ramallah, Astrid Wein

“I commend Austria for this generous contribution and for its increasing support to UNRWA. I am pleased to see the Agency’s relationship with Austria expand in size and scope and hope for an even stronger partnership in the coming years.”

~ UNRWA Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini

Photo: Lucrezia Vittori/UNRWA