A Palestinian boy uses a wheelchair to transport a bag of peanuts as he helps his mother who makes a living by peeling peanuts for a factory, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip January 22, 2019..
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
The United Nations and Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding Sunday night for a one-time grant of $20 million for humanitarian projects in Gaza, which the world body has in the past described as mired in a state of "constant humanitarian crisis."
The money is in addition to the close to $10 million distributed in Gaza over the weekend to 94,000 poor families. Each family received $100 in cash.
This is an “important step for boosting the Palestinian economy,” tweeted Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories. He included a photograph of himself and Qatari envoy Mohammad Emadi, who heads Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee, signing the memorandum at UN headquarters in Jerusalem.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov tweeted his appreciation for Qatar for “supporting #UN efforts to alleviate the suffering of 2 million #Palestinians in #Gaza by creating jobs & providing training for the most vulnerable.”
“This is the only way to sustain calm, support reconciliation & address all humanitarian efforts,” he added.
The funds, which will be distributed to the UN over the course of the next year, are part of a $150 million Qatar grant to Gaza. This has included $60 million already allocated for Gaza fuel, in six payments from November to April.
Qatar, as part of that $150 million grant, has also given Hamas in Gaza two payments of $15 million each in November
, so that it could pay the salaries of civil servants. The Palestinian Authority has refused to pay those salaries as part of its severe economic sanctions against Hamas in Gaza.
The Qatari payments were designed to alleviate the humanitarian suffering caused in Gaza because of the lack of those salaries.
That initial two $15 million payments were organized between Qatar and Israel in November and December. But Israel initially withheld a third $15 million payment in January
in response to increased Hamas violence by the Gaza border fence
Once Israel released the funds, Hamas refused to accept the money
Qatar then ended what would have been four $15 million grants of cash in January, February, March and April. Instead, it gave $10 million in cash to 94,000 Gaza families over the weekend and on Sunday evening signed a memorandum of understanding giving $20 million to the UN.
Qatar is expected to give three more grants of $10 million to poor Gaza families over the next three months.
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