Funding shortage leads to World Food Programme cuts for Palestinians

The World Food Programme has suspended or reduced aid for some of its Palestinian beneficiaries in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip due to funding shortages. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Funding shortage leads to World Food Programme cuts for Palestinians

  • Some 27,000 Palestinians are no longer receiving aid through the United Nations program since January 1 in the West Bank
  • Another 165,000, including 110,000 in Gaza, are receiving 80 percent of the usual amount

JERUSALEM: The World Food Programme has suspended or reduced aid for some of its Palestinian beneficiaries in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip due to funding shortages, an official with the organization said Sunday.
Some 27,000 Palestinians are no longer receiving aid through the United Nations program since January 1 in the West Bank, said Stephen Kearney, the organization’s director for the Palestinian territories.
Another 165,000, including 110,000 in Gaza, are receiving 80 percent of the usual amount, he said.
The cuts were decided upon after a gradual reduction in donations over the past nearly four years, with US cuts having the biggest effect.
In 2018, the WFP assisted 250,000 people in Gaza and 110,000 in the West Bank.
In the village of Yatta near Hebron in the southern West Bank, Maha Al-Nawajah said she is buying fewer necessities.
“In December, they did not renew my card,” said the 52-year-old mother, referring to the WFP card that allowed her to buy groceries for 12 members of her extended family.
She said family members were unemployed.
“My sons do not have permission to enter into Israel and my husband receives it occasionally” and can earn some cash during those times, she said.
The West Bank has an unemployment rate of 18 percent and some Palestinians seek to work in Israel with the hope of earning a higher salary.
But permits are needed to do so and Israel is selective in who is given one.
The WFP launched a funding appeal on December 19 and received additional contributions from the European Union and Switzerland, but the amount remains short, Kearney said.
It said at the time that it was in need of $57 million. It will now seek contributions from new donors in an effort to fill the gap, he said.
Kearney said there were also concerns that the cuts would affect the local economy since residents used the cards to buy goods in local stores.
In the Gaza Strip, around 80 percent of the two million residents rely on international aid.
The strip has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade. Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
US President Donald Trump has cut some $500 million in Palestinian aid.


Algeria graft prosecutor refers two ex PMs to supreme court

Updated 16 min 27 sec ago
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Algeria graft prosecutor refers two ex PMs to supreme court

  • Former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who served under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika were referred to the Supreme Court
  • Five other former ministers were also referred

ALGIERS: An Algerian prosecutor investigating graft allegations has referred two former prime ministers and five former ministers to the supreme court, Ennahar TV reported on Sunday citing a statement from the prosecution.
Mass protests have broken out in Algeria demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people demonstrators regard as corrupt. The seven politicians will be investigated by the court over alleged corruption cases, Ennahar said, without providing details.
They include former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who served under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who resigned on April 2 after coming under pressure from protesters and the army.
The list of the former ministers, who are under investigation, includes Amara Benyounes, Abdelakader Zaalane, Amar Ghoul, Karim Djoudi and Abdessalam Bouchouareb.
They were in charge of the sectors of trade, transport, public works, finance and industry respectively.
Their lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
The army is now the most powerful institution after the departure of Bouteflika, who had ruled the North African country since 1999.
Army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah has said major corruption cases would be pursued to try to appease the protests that started on Feb.22.
Bouteflika's youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge over "harming the army's authority and plotting against state authority."
At least five prominent businessmen have also been detained pending trial over involvement in corruption cases.
Protesters also want the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Beoui, who are considered as part of the ruling elite that has run the country since independence from France in 1962.