In a statement, UNRWA called for providing an additional $60 million by June to help the agency provide aid to more than one million Palestinian refugees in Gaza.
"From fewer than 80,000 Palestine refugees receiving UNRWA social assistance in Gaza in the year 2000, there are today over one million people who need emergency food assistance without which they cannot get through their day," it said.
UNRWA explained that there are now some 620,000 Gazans who live in abject poverty — those who cannot cover their basic food needs and who have to survive on $1.6 per day — and nearly 390,000 absolute poor.
Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, mainly blamed the 12-year Israeli blockade for the deteriorating living conditions in the strip.
"This is a near ten-fold increase caused by the blockade that lead to the closure of Gaza and its disastrous impact on the local economy, the successive conflicts that razed entire neighborhoods and public infrastructure to the ground, and the ongoing internal Palestinian political crisis that started in 2007 with the arrival of Hamas to power in Gaza," he said.
A 2017 U.N. report predicted that Gaza, home to nearly two million Palestinians, would be unlivable by the year 2020.
"Today, with over 53 percent unemployment rate among Gaza's population and with more than one million people dependent on quarterly UNRWA food handouts, it is mostly preventive humanitarian action of UN agencies, including UNRWA, and remittances from abroad that have held Gaza back from the brink of total collapse," UNRWA said.