The United States has announced a $50 million aid program for the Gaza Strip.

U.S. officials said Monday that the money will be used over five years to provide basic humanitarian assistance and create jobs. The money will be distributed by the U.S Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services.

The U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, Donald A. Blume, said the effort is meant to address "the dire needs that are obvious in Gaza."

Gaza's economy has sharply declined since the Islamic militant group Hamas took over the coastal territory nearly a decade ago. Unemployment there is estimated to be over 40 percent.

The U.S. considers Hamas a terror organization and has no official relations with the group.