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Sep. 25  2018
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UN agency: Palestinian children 'malnourished'

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says more than a fifth of Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Source  :  BASE21

by Christian/Base21 Media Activist
dvs-b@t-online.de


The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says more than a fifth of Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are suffering from acute malnutrition.

"They are suffering for purely man-made reasons," said the agency's commissioner-general Peter Hansen.

"No drought has hit Gaza and the West Bank, no crops have failed and the shops are often full of food."

He said the failure of the Middle East peace process and Israel's policy of sealing off Palestinian areas had had the effect of a terrible natural disaster.

The UN agency is now launching a $200m appeal to fund what Mr Hansen said was the region's biggest food aid programme.

The agency said it was planning to spend $35m of that money on distributing food parcels to 1.3 m people - or 222,000 families - over the first six months of 2003.

Level of malnutrition "comparable to that in Zimbabwe or Congo"

Before the latest Palestinian intifada (oruprising) started two years ago, the agency had been feeding just 11,000 families in the occupied territories.

The agency requested $170m for this year's programmes. It said it received only 60% of that amount, but endless obstacles, delays at checkpoints and heavy curfews meant the agency actually spent less.

The UN said in September that the uprising and Israel's stranglehold on the occupied territories has left the Palestinian Authority bankrupt and plunged Palestinians deeper into poverty.

It said nearly half of the Palestinian population was living on less than the UN's poverty threshold of $2 a day.

The local economy was close to collapse and the level of malnutrition was comparable to that in Zimbabwe or Congo.

Nursing mothers and pregnant women are consuming on average 15-20% fewer calories per day than they did before.

As a result, both their health and the normal development of their children are threatened.

There has also been an increase in stillbirths.

Mr Hansen said he was not surprised over "harsh" measures by Israel to protect its people.

However he said he did not believe that many of the steps would provide effective security.

"We are not there to advise the Israeli Government on its security policies," Mr Hansen said.

"But if we were to be asked about advice, I think we would find that many of the measures that are taken do not, in the medium and long-term, increase the security which the Israeli people have the right to expect in their lives."

Mr Hansen said that Israel's measures created "a number of people who have seen their lives ruined, who have seen their families killed or maimed, and who have experienced a humiliation that one really must see and experience to grasp it".

Israel's ambassador to UN offices in Geneva said that Israel was working "with the interested parties to alleviate the humanitarian situation in the territories and make life easier for those Palestinians not involved in terrorism".

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