No money no summer camps for Gaza kids
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees is cancelling its annual summer camps for children in the Gaza Strip, saying it has failed to raise enough money.
"It was decided to stop the Summer Games programme in the Gaza Strip for 2012 due to not having received sufficient funding from donors, that is $9.9 million (7.5 million euros)," said Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in Gaza.
He said that UNRWA had received pledges of $3.3 million, "but that's not enough to cover expenses. That's why we decided to allocate these funds to basic humanitarian services and resume the games in 2013 if we get the necessary financial support," he said.
UNRWA's "Summer Games" programme caters to around 250,000 children at 1,200 sites in the Gaza Strip during six weeks of summer holidays.
Last year and in 2010 campsites were vandalised by unknown attackers but activities still carried on.
The attacks were blamed on Muslim extremists who view the camps as a symbol of Western corruption because boys and girls mingle freely.
Abu Hasna said that the cancellation of this year's events was a blow to the children and to around 9,000 older Palestinian youths who would have had summer jobs helping to run the camps.
UNRWA cares for nearly five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, including more than one million in Hamas-ruled Gaza.