On 30 March clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians participating the 'Great Return March' - a planned six-week protest - in Gaza resulted in the deaths of at least 16 Palestinians. Israeli officials said soldiers opened fire after rioting began. Many hundreds were injured.
UNA-UK reiterates the call of the UN Secretary-General for an independent and transparent investigation into this tragic incident.
This latest violent episode serves as a reminder of the urgent need to find a sustainable and lasting end to this conflict. We urge all parties to take steps to reduce tensions in order to create, in the words of the Secretary-General, "the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations for a peaceful solution that will allow Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side peacefully and in security".
In the absence of peace, the work of UN agencies in the Palestinian Territories becomes ever more vital in meeting the pressing humanitarian needs. An estimated 1.6 million Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory, or 27 per cent of households, are food insecure,
In particular UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, plays an invaluable role. UNRWA is under unprecedented financial strain, following the decision of the United States to indefinitely defer its voluntary contributions to the agency. It now faces a shortfall of $446 million. In response the UK has made its payment to UNRWA earlier in the financial year than originally planned, in order to help UNRWA's cashflow, but has not pledged any additional funds (the EU has pledged an extra €42.5 million, some of which will come from the UK). Given how important peace and security in the region is to the UK interests, UNA-UK hopes the Government will consider increasing its contribution.
UNRWA itself has launched an urgent appeal for donations. You can make a contribution by following this link.
Photo: Students make a statement at an UNRWA event sponsored by the UK's Department for International Development (DfID). Alan Duncan MP, Secretary of State for DfID at the time, looks on. Credit: UNRWA