JERUSALEM — A severe funding shortfall in Palestine is expected to affect approximately 193,000 of the poorest people in Gaza and the West Bank in January, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The WFP said it needs $57 million to maintain its current level of support to 360,000 people in 2019, and with a noticeable drop in funding the agency said it now expects 27,000 people in the West Bank to receive no further assistance while the rest will only receive 80% of their monthly entitlement.

“WFP’s assistance has been a lifeline to tens of thousands of people who have exhausted all their meager resources while trying to cope with unabated and mounting hardships,” said Stephen Kearney, WFP representative and country director in Palestine. “As the gap between rising food needs and available resources continues to widen, WFP has no alternative but to take these difficult decisions.”

The WFP said nearly 70% of the population in Gaza is food insecure. Most of the WFP’s assistance goes to the poorest and most food-insecure communities, and the agency noted that further cutbacks in food entitlements may cause those individuals to skip more meals, take on additional debts and withdraw their children from schools.

“We call on the international donor community to strengthen its support and help us prevent even more hardship,” Kearney said.