According to reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the percentage of underweight children in Gaza aged between nine and 12 months rose from 4.5 per cent in June to 5.6 per cent in August. Over the same period in Gaza, anaemia in children rose from 52 per cent to 70.5 per cent. In the West Bank, although August figures are not available, the percentage of underweight children aged between nought and 24 months rose from 3.4 per cent in January to 4.2 per cent in June. Anaemia in children rose from 43.9 per cent to 49.4 per cent over the same period.
The European Union-led temporary international mechanism (TIM) is helping to alleviate the difficulties faced by many Palestinian families in Gaza and the West Bank. So far, around 40,000 vulnerable Palestinians identified as needing social hardship support have benefited from cash payments. The TIM is being expanded to provide cash payments to an additional 50,000 Palestinians, identified by the World Food Programme as in need of food aid. In addition, the lowest paid public sector workers have also received payments through the TIM, including 11,900 health workers.
DfID is providing up to £12 million to the TIM, of which £9 million has been committed to specific programmes, including cash payments for poor Palestinians. DfID also made a contribution of £15 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in April to support its vital role providing social support and other essential services to Palestinian refugees.
However, aid alone cannot eliminate the suffering in the occupied Palestinian territory. The only way that life for the majority of Palestinians will improve is through progress towards peace with Israel. We hope that Hamas will commit to the quartet principles in order for the peace process to resume.