Join me today in praying for the Palestinians in Gaza and how they are affected by UNRWA funding cuts. My name is Fouad Abou-Rizk and I am passionate about international crisis relief. I write humanitarian prayers to be an advocate and help people care.
I pray that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA, the UN agency devoted to serving Palestinian refugees) will receive the funds that it needs to continue operating at full capacity. I pray that funding will not continue to be cutoff from them for political reasons.
I pray that they will not be forced to close any schools, food programs, or health centers, or reduce the amount of services that they provide.
I pray that Israel’s blockade of Gaza will be lifted so that it’s economy will not continue to fail. I pray that while the blockades remain, the people of Gaza will receive sufficient aid to live dignified lives.
I pray for an extreme reduction in the poverty and unemployment rates in Gaza. I pray that the people of Gaza will have sufficient access to housing, food, clean water, and electricity.
I pray that Gazans who are protesting their conditions at the border with Israel will not continue to be met with disproportionate force. I also pray that all who protest will do so peacefully.
I pray that the international community will not be indifferent to the suffering of the people of Gaza and that effective diplomacy will take place to improve conditions.
Notes and Explanations
Gaza is a small strip of land in Palestine, bordered by Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the most densely populated places in the world as well as one of the poorest. Since 2014 it has been under blockade from Israel; the blockade has ruined its economy. Their economic growth went from 8% in 2016 to 0.5% in 2017. Only Venezuela had a greater drop in GDP (gross domestic product).
Two-thirds of Gaza’s 2 million people are internally displaced. The territory receives on average 4 hours of electricity per day and 95% of its water is contaminated. Over 40% of the population is unemployed. Learn more about poverty in Gaza here.
Since March 30th, as a result of the conditions the people of Gaza face, as well as the anniversary of their land being taken from them in May 1948 when the state of Israel was created, they have been protesting (most people peacefully) near the Israel border, which is marked by a fence. During this time, 130 Palestinian protesters, including two journalists and at least one medic, have been killed and over 13,000 wounded. The Israeli use of force has been described as grossly disproportionate.
UNRWA, short for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, is the UN agency devoted to supporting Palestinian refugees in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. They provide healthcare, operate schools, and provide other basic services to Palestinians.
In January, the U.S. announced that it would cut over half of its funding to UNRWA in the wake of reforms that they have vaguely described as increased accountability and efficiency, but ultimately have not specified. The U.S. has cut $250 million of its annual giving to UNRWA, almost one quarter of the agency’s $1.2 billion budget.
Those cuts are about to take effect, potentially shutting down schools, food services, and medical centers that provide basic and necessary services and goods to millions of people, not only in Gaza and West Bank, but also in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. UNRWA commissioner Pierre Krähenbühl said that schools may not be able to open for their fall semesters in August and September. Learn more about the funding crisis in this New York Times article.