Consolidated Appeal for occupied Palestinian territory 2006

30 November 2005

For the fourth consecutive year humanitarian agencies are appealing to donors for funding for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The unfortunate need for yet another appeal stems from a largely unchanged humanitarian situation. Poverty rates have increased in 2005 compared to 2004, largely because the quality of work is lower and households’ coping mechanisms are increasingly fragile.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) remain strangulated by an inability to freely cross borders to potential markets and move within the West Bank. The Israeli Government has stated that these measures are necessary to prevent militant attacks on Israeli citizens. Unless these restrictions are eased the prospect of indigenous Palestinian economic growth is dim. As the World Bank has noted on many occasions, increased donor spending within a policy environment of restricted access will have limited impact on alleviating Palestinian poverty.

Until improvements occur the need for humanitarian assistance remains crucial. Coping mechanisms - such as using remaining savings, going into debt with neighbours and relying increasingly on credit - are unsustainable. The fact that people are increasingly relying on them reinforces the importance of humanitarian assistance as a form of income support to allow people to concentrate resources on other essential needs. Cutting back on assistance will put extreme stress on these already-stretched strategies and increase poverty. 

This humanitarian picture has persisted despite positive political momentum over the past year. The election of President Abbas and Israel’s disengagement from settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank has infused momentum into a sluggish peace process. There has also been some positive easing of Palestinian movement in the West Bank in the first half of 2005. The problem is that as yet none of these developments have made a dent in the key humanitarian indicators of the current crisis.

Nevertheless efforts are underway to move into a recovery and eventually, development mode of assistance. The appointment of James Wolfensohn as the Special Envoy to the Quartet on Disengagement has resulted in a Rapid Action Programme (RAP) and the possibility of increased donor funding of up to US$ 3 billion a year to the recovery effort over a period of three years to support the Palestinian Medium-term Development Plan (MTDP). He has also been intensively negotiating for improvements in Palestinian access.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) initiated its first three year MTDP for 2005-2007 which has provided a basic framework for the 2006 CAP ensured that humanitarian projects are complementary with its initiatives. The CAP has also been drafted alongside the preparation of a Common Assessment. This is the forerunner of the United Nations (UN) Development Framework – a more comprehensive planning structure – that also signals a readiness to return to a longer-term approach.

These initiatives have enabled UN to shift more transitional projects such as infrastructure rehabilitation – out of the CAP in contrast to previous years. As a result, the CAP this year is tightly focused on life-saving humanitarian needs such as: improving availability of food; emergency employment for vulnerable households; enhancing access to health services and improving awareness of the root causes of the humanitarian situation. The total request to donors in 2006 is US$ 215 million down from US$ 302 million in 2005.

Targeting the most vulnerable has been greatly strengthened by the adoption of a new ‘Needs Analysis Framework’. This approach, adopted by all agencies, employs a ‘bottom-up’ approach that rigorously measures the most vulnerable.

The CAP for 2006, therefore, has 64 initiatives in

  1. coordination and support services;
  2. education;
  3. emergency job creation and cash assistance;
  4. food security (including agriculture);
  5. health (including psycho-social support);
  6. water and sanitation.

However, the vexed dilemma noted in all other previous CAPs remains. As the occupying power, Israel has the primary responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to meet the needs of those it occupies. The international community appears increasingly willing to shoulder Israel’s burden and provide assistance directly to Palestinians.  

 

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30 November 2005

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