UNDP reported today that its Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP) had joined the Palestinian Red Crescent Society/Gaza Strip in launching an “Emergency Needy Student Fund.” “With world headlines filled for nearly seven months about suffering and losses, it is encouraging that UNDP has once again demonstrated its commitment to the future of the Palestinian people,” said Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi, Chairman of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society/Gaza Strip. For his part, Timothy Rothermel, Special Representative of UNDP/PAPP, expressed hope that “this small investment in the future of Palestinian youth – especially at this time – will be seen as a contribution towards peace and development.” Both Dr. Abdel Shafi and Mr. Rothermel appealed to international donors, businesses and charitable bodies to support the initiative by contributing to the fund. They stressed that unless immediate efforts are made to deal with the crisis facing students, Palestinian society will suffer from its impact for generations.The rapid spread of unemployment and poverty among Palestinians families, especially in the Gaza Strip, has left many unable to meet basic needs, UNDP said, noting that costs of higher education were an expense that many families could no longer afford. According to the agreement establishing the fund, UNDP is allocating $150,000 as seed money to be used immediately for support of the most needy students studying at local Palestinian universities and abroad. The beneficiary students will be identified through area committees established by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society/Gaza Strip with the support of social workers.