Consolidated Appeal for occupied Palestinian territory 2008
In 2007, political, economic and social conditions continued to deteriorate in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The February Fatah-Hamas ceasefire negotiated in Mecca collapsed in May, and inter-factional violence resumed, culminating in the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the short-lived National Unity Government and instituted a new emergency Government in mid-June without the participation of Hamas. In practice, there are now two authorities in control, the Government of Prime Minister Salaam Fayyed in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza.
Ordinary Palestinians continue to bear the brunt of the ongoing crisis. In addition to continuing fatalities from direct Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 2007 saw a dramatic increase in deaths and injuries due to internal Palestinian violence. The poverty rate stands at 57% and food insecurity affects 34% of the population. The impact has been particularly severe in Gaza which has been effectively sealed off from the rest of the world since mid-June. Few residents can now exit Gaza, even in the case of medical emergency, and only limited commercial and humanitarian supplies can enter Gaza. A complete halt to the import of raw materials and exports to Israel and the wider world resulted in 75,000 Gazan employees laid off by mid-September. Dependency on agencies such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and WFP now stands at 80% in Gaza, which will further increase due to the continuing closure of Gaza’s external borders.
In the West Bank, the expanding presence of Israeli infrastructure in the West Bank—settlements, outposts, military infrastructure, etc.—adds to the geographic, political and economic fragmentation of the oPt, to the detriment both of present livelihood and future viability. The closure regime continues to impede access to workplaces, markets, and health and education services. The number of physical obstacles, including checkpoints, increased from 528 to 563 between January and September 2007. The Government of Israel continues with construction of the Barrier, which risks isolating approximately 9.5% of the West Bank between it and the Green Line. Construction continues despite the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice that those parts of the Barrier built inside the West Bank (90% of the route) are contrary to international law. Administrative and physical restrictions on access to East Jerusalem for West Bank Palestinians continue and although formal restrictions on Palestinian entry to the Jordan Valley were lifted in April, access without permits is only possible through two designated checkpoints and by public transportation. Eligibility requirements for Palestinians entering the closed area to the west of the Barrier in the northern West Bank continue to tighten, reflecting continuing restrictions on Palestinian development in Area C (60% of the West Bank).
The international community has made significant efforts to spare ordinary Palestinians from the worst effects of the crisis by supporting both the Consolidated Appeal (CAP) and the Temporary International Mechanism throughout 2007. With the removal of Hamas from the Government, the international community has resumed direct support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel has also resumed the transfer of Palestinian customs and tax revenues, including arrears, to the Government in Ramallah. Funds from Palestinian customs revenues and support from the international community are also reaching the Gaza Strip.
Despite this, for the majority of residents of the oPt the situation in 2007 is worse than in 2006, and the United Nations Country Team foresees a continued degradation of the humanitarian situation in the oPt as the most likely scenario in 2008. This is particularly the case in the Gaza Strip, where the intensified closure since mid-June 2007 has had a devastating impact on the humanitarian situation. Particularly hard hit has been the private sector, which was previously responsible for 54% of total employment in Gaza. A complete halt to the import of raw materials and exports to Israel and the wider world resulted by mid-September in 75,000 Gazan employees being laid off.
Given this, reliance on United Nations and partner NGO emergency programmes is expected to rise in 2008. Additionally, the devaluation of the dollar relative to the New Israeli Shekel, the increase in cereal prices globally and increased transportation costs due to rising fuel prices have contributed to rising operating costs for humanitarian agencies. Although salary payments to PA employees have resumed, infrastructure and materials are in need of repair and maintenance. In some sectors, such as health and education, basic goods are still being provided by international organizations. Accordingly, while there have been some improvements in 2007, these gains have been offset by the factors outlined above.
As a result, the CAP for 2008 stands at $462 million, somewhat higher than the 2007 Consolidated Appeal. This year’s appeal for oPt includes 127 projects from United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations. Partners have indicated that $1,893,306 is already available for their proposed projects, leaving an outstanding requirement of $460,012,725.
The 2008 CAP is the product of a much more inclusive consolidated appeal process, featuring greater participation of local and international NGOs and PA Ministry staff, compared to the 2007 CAP. Throughout the process, there was a high level of NGO and PA participation across most sector working groups. Twice as many NGOs have projects in the 2008 Consolidated Appeal as were in the 2007 CAP, and the level of NGO projects and funds requested both increased. As a result, the 2008 CAP is a much more comprehensive document assessing humanitarian needs.
The CAP 2008 focuses attention on the main areas that are considered essential for sustaining livelihoods and preventing further decline:
- Deliver humanitarian assistance impartially to address basic needs and limit the deterioration of Palestinian living conditions;
- Increased protection of civilians and increased advocacy for the implementation of international humanitarian law;
- Enhanced monitoring and reporting on the humanitarian situation, including impact assessments;
- Strengthening United Nations humanitarian coordination structures.
The scope of the 2008 CAP reflects the increased pressure on the Palestinian economy and livelihoods throughout 2007. This is despite welcome developments on the political horizon, particularly the resumption of relations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the prospect of renewed peace negotiations. Further positive developments include the PA’s efforts towards medium-term planning and reform, the appointment of the Quartet’s Special Representative to enhance economic revival and support institution- and capacity-building, and the willingness of the international community to directly support the Government with budget support. However, such developments are unlikely to immediately impact on humanitarian conditions in the oPt, given the current depth of need and continuing deterioration. Through this appeal, United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes and NGOs will work to lessen the impact on Palestinians, help restore human dignity and alleviate further poverty, institutional weakness and instability.
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Poverty in the oPt in 2006, August 2007.
WFP/FAO, Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment (CFSVA), released in February 2007.
The US dollar has decreased in value against the NIS by some 7% in October 2007, compared to October 2006 ($1 = 4.29 NIS in October 2006; $1 = 3.99 NIS in October 2007). The price of grain in the oPt has increased by 63% in September 2007, compared to September 2006. (All dollar signs in this document denote US dollars.)
In the 2007 oPt Consolidated Appeal, 14 NGOs submitted 33 projects in six sectors, requesting a total of $24.6 million; in the 2008 CAP, 29 NGOs submitted 50 projects in eight sectors, requesting some $38.2 million.