Zakat Foundation and UNRWA Rush Ramadan Food to Refugees in the Gaza Strip

Zakat Foundation and UNRWA Rush Ramadan Food to Refugees in the Gaza Strip

Zakat Foundation of America donors and UNRWA have joined hands this Ramadan to deliver 772 UNRWA food assistance baskets filled with a three-month supply of provisions to nearly 4,000 of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“Our supporters realize Gaza can no longer sustain the lives of the people locked inside it and wanted to rush food this Ramadan to those they know are fasting in gratitude to God despite their suffering” says Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation’s Executive Director. “UNRWA gives us that vital link.”

“We chose the Gaza Strip for this project because of its dire humanitarian situation,” says UNRWA USA Program Manager Lori Mosher.

Families selected come from Gaza’s skyrocketing population of abjectly poor -- each individual survives on a $1.74 a day or less. UNRWA social workers qualify each family with extensive home interviews. Nutrition experts specially select food basket items to counter malnutrition, which damages brain development and stunts physical growth in children, and increases the likelihood of sickness in pregnant women and the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and underweight newborns.

Here’s what a typical UNRWA food assistance basket contains:

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Gaza’s rising food insecurity doesn’t stem from lack of market availability but from its soaring poverty rate, which shot to 53% last year, up a staggering 14.1% from 2011. That translates to more than a million poor, including 400,000 children, an appalling indictment of Gaza’s blockade and the world’s apathy.

Gaza’s household poverty line has dropped to $693 for a family of five (two adults and three children), according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics’ (PCBS) “Poverty Profile in Palestine, 2017.” Fully two-thirds of Gaza’s poor, roughly 656,000, have tumbled beneath the “deep poverty” line of $554. That’s a nearly 17-point leap to 33.7% from 2011’s 21% mark.

Gaza’s poverty free fall traces directly back to the total land, air, and sea blockade imposed on it since June 2007, which has “undermined the living conditions in the coastal enclave and fragmented the occupied Palestinian territory and its economic and social fabric,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The blockade has spawned one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 43.2% for refugees, with a whopping 60% youth unemployment level (though Gaza has a world-class 97% literacy rate, 14 points higher than the American literacy rate of 8%, according to an April 2017 study by the US Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy). UNRWA’s Gaza refugee assistance rolls have ballooned to 10 times their pre-blockade size in the year 2000.

The shockingly lethal response to the recent Great March of Return – nonviolent protests to break the 11-year blockade gradually strangling Gaza’s 2 million people – has gravely worsened the Strip’s already grim living conditions and further stressed its crumbling humanitarian infrastructure, where an alarming 80% of Gazans now depend on dwindling international relief aid.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl recently shared the following: “I truly believe that much of the world completely underestimates the extent of the disaster in human terms that occurred in the Gaza Strip since the marches began on March 30, 2018.”

Zakat Foundation plans to further help UNRWA (the largest public sector employer in Gaza with 13,000 staff, 98% of whom are refugees) reach its goal of providing 924,310 Palestine refugees with emergency food assistance, including 526,856 living in abject poverty.

For more information on this project and its outcomes, please contact us using the information below, or visit our websites at zakat.org and unrwausa.org.    


Zakat Foundation
Amal Ali
(708) 233-0555

Director of Communications
Laila Mokhiber
(202) 223-3767

Partnership between Zakat Foundation and UNRWA USA Culminates in the Repair of 125 Palestine Refugee Families' Homes

Partnership between Zakat Foundation and UNRWA USA Culminates in the Repair of 125 Palestine Refugee Families' Homes

As an update on the six month partnership between Zakat Foundation and the US National Committee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA USA), from August to December 2017, the two organizations completed the repair of 125 Palestine refugee families' homes in the Gaza Strip, who sustained minor or major damage as a result of the military activities in 2014.

Though it has been nearly four years since the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip in 2014, the people of Gaza continue to bear the trauma and destruction of the unprecedented 50 day long Israeli military assault. Due to the high caseload, harsh economic conditions, and the ten year illegal blockade, preventing essential entry of construction supplies, the restoration efforts in Gaza have been slow.

In the face of these logistical challenges, UNRWA’s emergency shelter repair and construction program has provided assistance to over 77,761 Palestine refugee families for minor and severe repairs and shelter reconstruction cases to date.

Through the collaborative work of UNRWA USA and Zakat Foundation from August to December 2017, the shelter repair and reconstruction project positively impacted the lives of approximately 615 Palestine refugees, who all now live in a dignified, adequate, safe, and environmentally sound shelter.

Khalil Demir, founder and Executive Director of Zakat Foundation highlights the importance of supporting Palestine refugees, stating: “The sheer magnitude of tragedy and profusion of catastrophes that Palestinians of Gaza—a staggering 1.3 million refugees—endure every single day tops, or nearly so, every conceivable humanitarian category: poverty, orphan rate, child malnutrition, anemia, disease, and disabilities; energy and water deprivation, unemployment, relief dependence, and underdevelopment; and severely curtailed medical access, equipment, supplies, medicine, and treatment.”

In light of the UNRWA funding crisis, Demir adds: “In the midst of such epic tribulation, UNRWA is nothing less than a godsend for our donors’ house repair and rebuilding program for the 5,500 families still homeless from the massive 2014 assault. UNRWA is Gaza’s gold medal organization when it comes to coordinating housing repairs, gliding over all the considerable political construction material hurdles, while closely vetting every single material provider.”

Through strong partnerships, like that between UNRWA USA and Zakat Foundation, Palestine refugees in Gaza are slowly able to reconstruct their lives, following the essential rebuilding of their houses.

For more information on this project and its outcomes, please contact us using the information below, or visit our websites at zakat.org and unrwausa.org.    

CONTACTS: ZF Public Relations Coordinator, Nour Zein, (708) 233-0555, nour@zakat.org; UNRWA USA Director of Communications, Laila Mokhiber, (202) 223-3767, laila@unrwausa.org