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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Palestinian children 'going hungry'
Palestinian boys at the Chatilla refugee camp
More than 30% of Palestinians rely on handouts

A new report on conditions in the West Bank and Gaza is to show a substantial rise in malnutrition among Palestinian children.

The report, commissioned by the US Agency for International Development, also highlights poverty levels, health problems and the high dependence of Palestinians on food handouts.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Peres has freed $40m of tax revenues for Palestinians
The US report will not be published until early next month, but its findings are already being widely discussed and parts have appeared on a Palestinian website.

The preliminary results show a big rise in malnutrition among Palestinian children under the age of five during the past two years of the intifada.

They show that over 30% of Palestinians rely on food handouts from the UN, the Red Cross or other agencies.

Plea to Peres

According to the World Bank, 70% of Palestinians live on less than $2 a day.

Some of these problems have been building up for some time, but the situation has become more acute since Israel reoccupied large parts of the West Bank.

On Thursday the US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, met Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and urged his government to take action to prevent what he called a ''humanitarian disaster'' in the territories.

In an effort to blunt the edge of international criticism of the attack on Gaza City on Monday, Mr Peres has already said the government will release some $40m of frozen tax revenues to the Palestinians.

He seems to be aware that - following Monday's public-relations disaster - Israel faces mounting international blame over the looming humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank.


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04 Jul 02 | Middle East
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