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U.N. seeks $34 million in aid to Gazans

Jan. 2, 2009 at 3:25 PM

GAZA, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees said it is seeking $34 million to address humanitarian needs of Gazans as Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue.

The fund would allow the U.N. Relief and works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to provide emergency food, medical supplies and living assistance for four months, the United Nations said in a news release.

The $34 million is beyond the $275 million the agency sought in the 2009 Emergency Appeal issued in December for Gaza, U.N. officials said.

"In my eight years in UNRWA, the urgency of an appeal for the people here has never been so acute," UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd from the agency's headquarters in Gaza. "I call on the international community to respond with the promptness and generosity demanded by the desperate situation in Gaza today."

The United Nations estimated that between 320 and 380 Palestinians have died since the Israeli airstrikes began Saturday, and between 1,500 and 1,900 have been wounded. Four Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets, U.N. officials said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders have called for an immediate cease-fire. During an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council this week, Ban said the impact of the violence has been "nothing short of terrifying" for the 1.5 million residents of Gaza.

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