Palestinian refugees this week protested outside the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in southern Gaza.
The protesters rejected the ongoing cuts to UNRWA’s services and also rejected the agency’s recent decision to implement a unified food basket system.
The agency announced on 21 February that it will implement a new ‘unified parcel system’ which will replace the old dual system. This means that, in distributing food parcels, the agency will no longer distinguish between the ‘absolute poor’ and the ‘abject poor’, also referred to as the ‘extreme poor’, but will treat all beneficiaries of food aid in Gaza the same.
The Palestinian Human Rights Centre stated that the new system will harm thousands of refugees.
Criteria used to determine the size of the food package in the past included family size, the age and gender of the breadwinner and the presence of chronic diseases or disabilities.
According to UNRWA Media Adviser Adnan Abu-Hasna UNRWA distributes aid to 1 140 000 refugees which amounts to more than half of Gaza’s population.
Speaking to Al Jazeera Adnan Abu-Hasna said: ‘There are two categories: the abject poor amounting to 650 000 people and the absolute poor amounting to 550 000 people. The amount as been growing since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic yet we still only have a food budget of $80 million.’
According to Abu-Hasna the ‘abject poor’ are now receiving smaller baskets of food aid but the overall amount of beneficiaries have increased through the new system.
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