Saturday, January 31, 2009

$20.3 million to fund humanitarian Needs

US Members of Congress Press for Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

(A letter was circulated in the US Congress to urge Sec. of State Clinton to have "the United States play a leading role in alleviating the suffering of civilians in Gaza." 61 Congresspeople signed the letter which can be read here:

Washington, D.C. - Congressman John Olver today applauded the Obama Administration for authorizing the use of $20.3 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) Fund to address critical post-conflict humanitarian needs in Gaza.

On January 28, Congressman Olver spearheaded a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting the State Department release ERMA funds for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance. Sixty-three Members of Congress joined Congressman Olver as signatories to the letter.

Congressman John Olver said, “As is the case with any humanitarian crisis, time is of the essence. There is a dire need on the ground for food, fresh water, medical assistance and electricity. The longer the people of Gaza go without these essentials, the worse this tragic crisis will become. I am very pleased that the Administration recognized the urgency of our request and responded so decisively.”

Of the $20.3 million in new ERMA funds, $13.5 million will go to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), $6 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and $800 to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). These organizations are distributing emergency food assistance, providing medical assistance and temporary shelter, creating temporary employment, and restoring access to electricity and potable water to the people of Gaza.