Consolidated Appeal for occupied Palestinian territory 2007
Since the beginning of 2006, political, economic and social conditions have sharply deteriorated for Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). A political impasse has taken hold, characterised by economic and military pressure by Israel including the withholding of Palestinian customs revenues, increasing divisions within the Palestinian Authority, and the diversion of direct international assistance away from key Palestinian Authority institutions.
Ordinary Palestinians have been the main victims of this crisis. Poverty rates stand at 65.8% and continue to rise; food insecurity has risen by 13% during 2006. Restrictions on the movement of Palestinian goods, workers, businessmen, officials and public service providers have intensified dramatically. A wave of public sector strikes, which swept across oPt in September 2006, has severely debilitated the delivery of public services, leading to the closure of public schools and hospital wards in the West Bank.
In Gaza, residents live in a war environment with almost daily Israeli military strikes from land, air and sea, which is further exacerbated by the firing of Palestinian rockets into Israel. Between 25 June and 12 October 2006, 261 Gazans died in this violence, 60 of them children – over ten times more than during the same period in 2005 (23). During the same period, two Israelis were killed and 15 injured by home-made rockets fired out of the Gaza Strip.
The Gazan population is undergoing a virtual “siege” by historical standards. Normal market mechanisms have faltered and aid dependency has risen. Palestinian goods have consistently been unable to move out of the strip, businesses have closed and have moved elsewhere. Exports are a tiny fraction of what the Agreement on Movement and Access foresaw in November last year. Failing public security structures have given way to a dangerous fragmentation of armed factions and private militias. These have clashed with increasing frequency killing 64 people and resorted, according to United Nations field observations, to the increasing use of “traditional justice” within Gaza communities.
The number of checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank has increased by 40% through 2006. The West Bank is being divided into increasingly small pockets, the checkpoints diverting Palestinians off the main roads that are reserved for Israelis to reach their settlements. Jerusalem, the cultural and economic heart of Palestinian life, is open only for those who hold the correct permit which excludes the vast majority of Palestinians. And the Jordan Valley is now off-limits to all but a few Palestinians living there or working in Israeli settlements. In addition, over half of the 703 km-long Barrier route has been constructed, despite the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which declared the route in contravention of international law.
The international community has made genuine efforts to spare ordinary Palestinians the worst effects of the crisis by supporting the Temporary International Mechanism and by pledging increased humanitarian assistance at the Geneva and Stockholm conferences. Nonetheless, for most residents of the oPt, the situation at the end of 2006 was worse than in 2005 and holds little reason for hope in 2007. As explained in this document, the United Nations Country Team predicts that the current impasse will endure well into 2007.
In this context, reliance on United Nations emergency programmes is expected to rise. The Consolidated Appeal for 2007, set at US$453.6 million, focuses attention on the four main areas that are considered critical in sustaining livelihoods and preventing further decline:
1. Employment generation and food assistance will be enhanced to address the abrupt increases of poverty and food insecurity registered during the year;
2. Targeted action will be undertaken in the areas of health and education in order to ease, temporarily, the effects of weakening public delivery systems;
3. New efforts will be made in the areas of agriculture, livestock, water and sanitation in order to strengthen the sustainability of livelihoods among communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
4. Monitoringsystems will be enhanced in order to better assess humanitarian protection needs. This will help to better inform donor decision-making and better calibrate United Nations and other international humanitarian responses.
The programmes in the 2007 Appeal take fully into account efforts already underway to ease the increasing burden of the crisis on individual Palestinian families. In tandem with the Temporary International Mechanism, which focuses investments primarily on low-income workers and non-salary support for public services, the United Nations will focus its employment and food assistance programmes on the unemployed and on vulnerable households in need of steady, predictable food assistance that will support domestic coping strategies. Likewise, programmes will focus on areas, such as agriculture, that are not sufficiently covered by ongoing initiatives. It is hoped that during the course of 2007 these measures will be buttressed by concrete progress on the implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, particularly as it concerns commercial transit via Karni and Rafah and the easing of movements within the West Bank.
The scope of the Consolidated Appeal for 2007 reflects the increased pressures borne by the Palestinian economy and society as a result of the renewed crisis and deepening uncertainties about the immediate future. By itself, the Appeal will not resolve the structural aspects of the unfolding crisis. Nor will it replace a Palestinian Authority that cannot deliver services, salaries and internal security. The solution lies beyond the Appeal. But through this Appeal, United Nations agencies and programmes will work to alleviate the impact on Palestinians, help retain human dignity and to mitigate further deterioration into full scale poverty, institutional collapse, and instability.
Resident Humanitarian Coordinator
According to Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) data on poverty rates, using income data – 2nd quarter 2006.