Palestinian families face another difficult Ramadan as aid funding dips

More than two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s population of some 2 million people suffers from poverty or extreme poverty, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). (Shutterstock/File Photo)
More than two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s population of some 2 million people suffers from poverty or extreme poverty, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). (Shutterstock/File Photo)
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Updated 15 April 2021

Palestinian families face another difficult Ramadan as aid funding dips

More than two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s population of some 2 million people suffers from poverty or extreme poverty, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Local statistics show that the unemployment rate was 43 percent before the pandemic, but it has now exceeded 50 percent

GAZA CITY: For the second year running, Hassan Abu Al-Amrain has missed out on relief aid for his family during the month of Ramadan. 

There has been a significant drop in the amount of funding provided to local civil humanitarian charities due to the measures imposed to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Abu Al-Amrain, 47, who lives in Gaza City said: “For the second year, the month of Ramadan has been the most difficult for us. We would usually wait for supplies of goods and food provided by charitable associations because I am unable to buy them.”

Anxiety dominates Abu Al-Amrain, who suffers from illnesses that have kept him out of work for 20 years.

“The situation is very difficult, and I do not know how I will provide my family’s needs,” he told Arab News.

More than two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s population of some 2 million people suffers from poverty or extreme poverty, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Local statistics show that the unemployment rate was 43 percent before the pandemic, but it has now exceeded 50 percent, with heads of families losing their jobs.

For needy families, the month of Ramadan is an opportunity to receive financial donations and food aid, which help them endure the hardships of life in Gaza, which has been deteriorating over the past 15 years as a result of the Israeli blockade and internal division.

“COVID-19 deprived us of the bounties of the month of Ramadan. In previous years, we did not need aid for months after the end of Ramadan,” said Abu Al-Amrain.

Abu Al-Amrain lives with his wife Hala, 35, and their four children in a small and dilapidated house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, north of Gaza City.

“For many years, we have not tasted fresh meat except during Ramadan, with charitable assistance,” Hala said, adding: “We do not have the ability to buy it.”

In Gaza, a kilo of fresh beef is sold for 50 shekels ($14). According to UNRWA data, about 80 percent of the population depends on humanitarian aid.

Due to a weak diet with little protein and vitamins, Hala suffers from an imbalance in his white and red blood cells, which causes dizziness and a rise in body temperature.

Doctors also discovered that her son Mohammed suffers from bone erosion, while her daughter Malak suffers from weak immunity and skin diseases, caused by malnutrition, as well as dampness and poor house conditions.

Abu Al-Amrain receives assistance from the Ministry of Social Affairs, which it disburses to the poorest families in the Gaza Strip once every three months, and it is estimated at 750 shekels.

But Abu Al-Amrain complains that aid has been irregular in the last two years and is not sufficient for the minimum requirements of life.

Despite the difficult epidemiological situation in Gaza, with a sudden increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, Abu Al-Amrain and his family lack the most basic protective equipment such as masks, detergents, and sterilizers.

The government administration, headed by Hamas in Gaza, has imposed strict measures to reduce infections.

These restrictions impacted the level of services provided by charitable institutions, especially food aid and Iftar.

An official at Al-Khair Foundation, who refused to reveal his name, told Arab News: “For the second year in a row, we will not organize Iftar for the poor, orphans, and the marginalized due to the emergency measures associated with COVID-19, as well as the decline in the level of external financing associated with Ramadan activities.”

Director of the Network of NGOs in Gaza, Amjad Al-Shawa, said that international funding has dropped more than 40 percent due to donor countries focusing on internal concerns and the pandemic.

Al-Shawa told Arab News that the Social Affairs Ministry’s delay in disbursing the dues of the needy people in Gaza has exacerbated their suffering. 

“Money and funding in Gaza are retreating and the poor are increasing,” he said.


Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
Updated 43 sec ago

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
  • South Sinai is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over
  • South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt

CAIRO: Officials in South Sinai have announced that it has become the first governorate in Egypt whose eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

According to health sources, it is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over — the allowed age for inoculation. 

South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt. It also includes famous religious sites such as Mount El-Tur and St. Catherine’s Monastery.

Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, said there have only been 81 deaths from COVID-19 there since the start of the pandemic — the lowest rate among Egypt’s governorates. 

He added that South Sinai recorded only one case on Sunday night after recording no cases for two weeks in a row, bringing the total number of cases to 1,371 since the start of the pandemic, with only 29 hospitalizations. 


10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
Updated 19 October 2021

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
  • Four out of every five children need humanitarian assistance in Yemen

GENEVA: Ten thousand Yemeni children have been killed after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the government in 2015, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Tuesday.
“The Yemen conflict has just hit another shameful milestone. We now have 10,000 children who have been killed or maimed since ... March 2015,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva after returning from a visit to Yemen.
“That is the equivalent of four children every single day,” Elder said, adding that many more child deaths or injuries went unreported.
Four out of every five children — a total of 11 million — need humanitarian assistance in Yemen, while 400,000 are suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 2 million are out of school, Elder said.
UN-led efforts to engineer a nationwide cease-fire have stalled as the Houthis resist compromise to end more than six years of a war that has caused what the UN calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Hundreds of Yemenis are trapped by fierce fighting between government and Houthi forces in the northern Marib governorate, residents and a local official said last week, after battles for control of the gas-rich region displaced some 10,000 people.


Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister
Updated 19 October 2021

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

DUBAI: Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has appointed Ali Bin Ahmad Al-Kuwari as finance minister in a government reshuffle, according to a statement issued by the emiri court on Tuesday.

Al-Kuwari had been serving as commerce and industry minister and as acting finance minister before the reshuffle.

Qatar's emir created an environment and climate change ministry on Tuesday, naming Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani as its minister. 

Two women were handed cabinet posts for education and social development. They join Health Minister Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, who had been the only woman in the cabinet.

 

(with Reuters)


Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
Updated 19 October 2021

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
  • There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July

CAIRO: There were 18,500 flights into and out of Egypt in July compared to 6,500 in the same month last year, an increase of 185 percent, according to the country’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

In June there were some 14,000 flights, compared to 500 in the same month last year.

There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July, more than quadruple the 500,000 passengers in the same month last year.

In June there were 1.6 million passengers, compared to 300,000 in the same month last year.

There were 19,200 tons of cargo transported by plane in July compared to 16,700 in the same month last year, an increase of 13 percent.

In June 21,300 tons were transported compared to 16,100 in the same month last year, an increase of 32 percent.


Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue
Updated 19 October 2021

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

CAIRO: Lebanon's parliament voted on Tuesday to hold legislative elections on March 27, parliamentary sources said, giving Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government only a few months to try to secure an IMF recovery plan amid a deepening economic meltdown.
Lebanon's financial crisis, labelled by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history, had been compounded by political deadlock for over a year before Mikati put together a cabinet alongside President Michel Aoun.
The currency has lost 90% of its value and three quarters of the population have been propelled into poverty. Shortages of basic goods such as fuel and medicines have made daily life a struggle.
Mikati, whose cabinet is focused on reviving talks with the International Monetary Fund, had vowed to make sure elections are held with no delay and Western governments urged the same.
But a row over the probe into last year's Beirut port blast that killed over 200 people and destroyed large swathes of the capital is threatening to veer his cabinet off course.
Some ministers, aligned with politicians that lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar is seeking to question over the explosion, last week demanded that the judge be removed from the probe.
Mikati has since said the cabinet will not convene another meeting until an agreement is reached on how to deal with the matter.
On Thursday, Beirut witnessed the worst street violence in over a decade with seven people killed in gunfire when protesters from the Hezbollah and Amal Shi'ite movements made their way to demonstrate against Judge Bitar.
The bloodshed, which stirred memories of the 1975-1990 civil war, added to fears for the stability of a country that is awash with weapons.
The early election date - elections were originally expected to be held in May - was chosen in order not to clash with the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Once a new parliament is elected, the Mikati cabinet will only act in a caretaker role until a new prime minister is given a vote of confidence and tasked with forming a new government.