occupied Palestinian territory
The OCHA office in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) was established in late 2001 in response to a sharply deteriorating humanitarian situation caused by an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2005, despite the positive climate that prevailed following the evacuation of around 8,000 Israeli settlers from settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank , poverty worsened. Sixty-four percent of the Palestinian population lives in poverty with 32 percent living in acute poverty. With violence continuing, physical protection of civilians and their property - along with access for humanitarian workers - remained key concerns.
The primary causes of the protracted humanitarian crisis among the Palestinian people are the controls imposed on access and movement by Israel , which states that such limitations are necessary to prevent attacks on Israeli citizens. While movement restrictions within Gaza have eased, the importation and exportation of goods is often blocked.
In the West Bank , Palestinian movement is hampered in several ways. The first is the 'closure system', a series of more than 400 obstacles, including checkpoints and roadblocks. The number of these obstacles has steadily increased since the disengagement of settlers in August. The second measure is 'the Barrier', which runs along the entire west side of the West Bank , projecting up to 22 kilometres into Palestinian territory. Land requisitioning and levelling by Israeli forces has steadily accelerated for its construction. The third is the permit regime, which controls Palestinian access to many roads in the West Bank and into Israelideclared 'closed areas', such as the area between the Green Line and the Barrier, the Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem.
- Provide strategic oversight for a wide range of humanitarian coordination activities
- Develop more comprehensive needs analyse to improve targeting of assistance and aid monitoring
- Develop specialised maps and analysis through a range of services and products (available in Arabic and Hebrew) designed to inform policy-makers, assist aid organisations to make operational decisions and to advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations
- Enhance coordination mechanisms at the district level
- Provide inter-agency advocacy strategies through the joint-chairing of the UN Inter Agency Humanitarian Advocacy Group
OCHA's physical presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enabled the coordination of humanitarian response via liaison with local governorates, municipalities and local humanitarian actors. The staff were able to directly respond to the exercise to preposition stocks in the event that access to affected populations was restricted. To further identify requirements and define the strategic objectives of the UN, a comprehensive needs analysis was undertaken through the office, which provided the basis for the 2006 CAP. The launch of the CAP was attended by over 100 members of the donor and local humanitarian community, and covered by over 15 media outlets.
The Information Management Unit produced a series of maps highlighting access difficulties, progress of the West Bank Barrier as well as a comprehensive database monitoring protection of civilians. Humanitarian analysis was enhanced with the development of an analysis unit within the office that brought together macro-economic analysis and field-based research to provide a comprehensive picture of humanitarian trends and, increasingly, the impact of aid. Humanitarian advocacy efforts included briefing 150 visiting delegations composed of foreign dignitaries, members of parliament, donors, international humanitarian organisations, academics and other policy-makers.
Inter-agency advocacy activities included the release of: a joint statement on International Women's Day; an Information kit (including a contact sheet and press advisory) from UN Agencies on the humanitarian situation in the oPt, delivered to journalists and humanitarian actors before the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August; a UN poster for International Peace Day in September; and a joint fact sheet on poverty, with a special meal at an orphanage in the West Bank, on International Day against Poverty in October.
OCHA produced weekly humanitarian briefing notes, 12 humanitarian updates (monitoring access among other issues), 10 situation reports (on the West Bank and Gaza during disengagement), 12 Gaza access reports with the latest humanitarian information, analysis and maps (four of the West Bank, seven of Gaza and one of Hebron Old city) on pressing humanitarian issues. A Mid Year Review was launched in June 2005.
Operational coordination, as well as coordination among UN Agencies and other humanitarian groups, was greatly enhanced through linkages and relationships developed with the Palestinian Authority.
OCHA's reports, produced in three languages, were used and quoted by decision makers and the media, as well as by official and nongovernmental bodies in Israel, the oPt and internationally.
Coordination was enhanced through the incorporation of all humanitarian agencies in the CAP. Through its emergency projects, the CAP allowed a better and more appropriate response to humanitarian needs and enhanced targeting of vulnerable and needy groups.
Though access continued to be a key constraint in 2005 OCHA, through its policy development, advocacy and coordination efforts, managed to draw the attention of decision-makers and policy-makers to this, and to the deteriorating humanitarian situation that flowed from it. OCHA oPt is seen by local and international policymakers as an essential member of the humanitarian community and a reliable source of information and analysis. It is frequently consulted and called upon by donors and the wider humanitarian community for its information, services and advice.