Ref: 05/2018

Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), met in PCHR’s Head office in Gaza City with Mary Gelberine, Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and Terry Bulata, SDC Project Manager.

Sourani highlighted the accumulating and successive crises in the Gaza Strip and dramatic consequences of the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip for 11 years.

The meeting addressed the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) following the latest U.S. Decision to cut the UNRWA funding by more than half and its serious social, economic and political effects.  Sourani added that the political significance of this decision is the most dangerous because it would affect the refugees and their right to return.  Moreover, this decision comes at a time when Gaza suffers from an almost-complete economic collapse.  Sourani also said that UNRWA provides vital support to around 70% of the Gaza Strip population in health, education and economic sectors.

On the other hand, Sourani talked about the internal Palestinian situation, particularly the reconciliation which stagnates and may collapse in anytime as civilians did not notice any real change on the ground that refutes their concerns and despite the Palestinian Prime Minister’s visit to Gaza twice following the reconciliation agreement.  He added that there is so far no solution for returning those dismissed from the public service and returning the deductions to the public servants in addition to the patients’ crisis relevant to hospitals and medical referrals and deteriorating electricity crisis.

Ms. Gelberine expressed her deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, stressing that SDC closely follows up the situation.  She added that SDC and their European partners attempt with all their efforts to work on not leading the humanitarian conditions in Gaza to collapse and on empowering the civil society.

Gelberine also emphasized that the international community will not accept UNRWA being affected by the U.S. latest measures and so their services not affected due to the reduction or cut of funds.  She pointed out that this means the support for around 70% of the Gaza population, who receive assistance from UNRWA, will collapse.

It should be mentioned that PCHR has close and long-term relationship with the SDC, which is one of the most prominent foundations that have supported PCHR’s work at the Palestinian and Israeli agendas, particularly the principle of the rule of law that was their common concern.