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Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Middle East
occupied Palestinian territory  
Regional Office for the Middle East, North Africa, Iran and Afghanistan  
Americas and the Caribbean


occupied Palestinian territory

Over the past ten years, the percentage of Palestinians living in poverty has moved from one in five to almost half of the population as incomes have fallen and Palestinians’ assets have been exhausted. Living conditions have been further eroded by the substantial decline in the quality of health and education services, and the inability of Palestinians to access them. A significant number of Palestinian and Israeli civilians have been killed since the conflict began in September 2000 and the experience of persistent fear and violence will have a lasting effect on both populations.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is a consequence of the conflict and the restrictions on Palestinian access. Movement restrictions on Palestinians crossing into Israel, where Palestinians have traditionally sought work, tightened further in 2005 both in Gaza and the West Bank. Within the West Bank, movement is restricted by approximately 400 checkpoints and roadblocks – established by Israel to prevent militant attacks into Israel. In addition, Israel is constructing a separation barrier in the West Bank that juts up to 22 kilometres into Palestinian areas causing further hardship. Although they are intended to address Israel’s security concerns, these measures have devastated the Palestinian economy and hampered access to health and education services.

The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will ease the situation inside the Gaza Strip, but unless accompanied by an easing of external access restrictions it will not result in substantive improvement. Throughout 2005 the passage through Rafah terminal into Egypt was heavily restricted. Israel also continues to maintain tight control over the Gaza coastline; no fishing has been permitted along approximately 40 percent of the Gaza coastline. Unless the movement of goods and labour is eased, the economic downturn will continue and the humanitarian situation will worsen. Under current conditions, poverty is predicted by the World Bank to increase to 56 percent by 2006.

Several localized factors – military occupations of several Palestinian localities, confiscation of Palestinian land, and demolition of Palestinian homes – have also had a major impact on the situation.

Coordination of UN response has continued to improve, particularly with regard to developing a more integrated approach and facilitating better prioritization of activities. There has also been a more critical look at the broader policy aspects of the humanitarian response involving donors. The widespread support for OCHA’s current role in oPt has continued and strong coordination mechanisms have been established at both the local and central level. OCHA has strengthened information systems and the improved geographic information systems and socio-economic data have greatly enhanced OCHA’s ability to provide a comprehensive analysis of the humanitarian situation. The increased depth of analysis on key issues such as closures has enabled a more direct and positive impact on the policy environment.

Information is the cornerstone of OCHA’s ability to highlight and alert the international community to pressing humanitarian concerns. Specific focus has also been directed at Israeli civil society and Palestinian groups.

Additionally, OCHA’s field teams have enhanced its ability to respond rapidly to emergencies through local coordination with governors and mayors. Each team – comprising national and international staff based in the region – plays a major role in enabling access throughout the West Bank and Gaza through regular and ongoing liaison with the Israeli Defence Forces in the field.

The objectives of OCHA oPt in 2006 are to: improve humanitarian operational coordination through common analysis and priority actions at the central and local level; coordinate advocacy on behalf of vulnerable populations affected by the emergency; improve access to better target areas and populations in need using information management; and coordinate the humanitarian policy used by the international community in oPt.

  • Review sectoral strategies on food security, water, health and education.
  • CAP implementation monitoring on key sectors.
  • Follow up on NAF (Needs Analysis Framework) research by identifying, compiling and analysing key humanitarian indicators in health, psycho-social, education, food.
  • Monitor the humanitarian situation including coordinated joint reports based on shared data.
  • Respond to humanitarian situations specific to each Governorate after military incursion.
  • Carry-out contingency planning simulation exercise.
  • Liaise with the IDF to ease movement restrictions.
  • Refine the advocacy strategy document.
  • Develop the UN Inter-agency Humanitarian Advocacy Group.
  • Issue common advocacy statements on issues of concern in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
  • Report on the construction of barrier and closures to engage with the Israeli authorities to ease internal access.
  • Compile field information and develop maps on the construction of the Barrier and access.
  • Dialogue with donors and other policy think-tanks around the CAP/CHAP.
  • Formulate humanitarian policy and input to donor coordination bodies/operational coordination bodies for discussion/implementation.
  • Report on the protection of civilians.
  • Monitor Bertini Commitments, Gaza access, closure and Barrier impact to increase understanding of the impact of access restrictions.


  • Number of agency participants in a common monitoring mechanism.
  • Number and percent of functioning sectoral coordination bodies as defined by attendance of principal actors.
  • Number and percent of functioning advocacy coordination meetings.
  • Number and percent of affected population provided with key basic services (water, food, education, shelter etc.).
  • Number of donors actively participating in the CHAP.
  • CAP funding received by sector, in US dollars.
  • Percent of funding obtained for NGO projects.
Planned Staffing Extra-budgetary
Local (GS)
UN Volunteers
Staff costs (US$)
Non-staff costs (US$)
Total costs (US$)


Regional Office for the Middle East, North Africa, Iran and Afghanistan

The multiform region covered by the Dubai Regional Office is vast and harbors a diverse set of humanitarian challenges that warrant OCHA’s attention and coordination support. Earthquakes, landslides and flash floods are among the most prevalent quick onset disasters that regularly strike within the region, especially in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and in the Maghreb region. In addition, slow onset natural disasters, principally drought, can affect certain parts of the region, Afghanistan in particular. Environmental emergencies and industrial disasters are another issue of concern, especially in countries with large-scale petro-chemical industries. As seen in the case of Iraq, these problems are often compounded by conflict. Other important compounding factors that exacerbate the impact of disasters are continued population growth, poverty-related vulnerability, varying levels of early warning, preparedness and response capacity with, in the background, the over-arching global issue of changing climate patterns.

In addition, various countries and territories in the region continue to be affected by intricate and often deeply rooted political, religious and other socio-economic challenges resulting in conflict, insecurity and other forms of disturbance. These situations range from active and violent hostilities to more low intensity conflict, stalemate situations or fragile post-conflict settings. Whilst the specifics and underlying causes of these situations differ, their distinct common feature is that they all increasingly result in the suffering of civilian populations and non-combatants and directly affect the humanitarian service providers who endeavor to assist within a climate of poor protection and disregard for International Humanitarian Law. In addition, conflict, insecurity or a lack of political solutions and settlements impact negatively on civilians through displacement, impeded return movements of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees, and erosion or loss of socio-economic opportunities and other coping mechanisms.

In this increasingly complex, often tense and politicized context where the United Nations, NGOs and governments in the Middle East share similar perception challenges, the strengthening of humanitarian partnerships in and with countries, charities and other key stakeholders in the region will be of key importance. This effort would help address mutual bias and misunderstanding, further enhance humanitarian efforts to reach affected communities and have more transparent and accountable humanitarian aid. These new partnerships will aim at strengthening dialogue and cooperation and should be based on respect, equality and a common understanding of principles guiding humanitarian action.

The establishment of the OCHA Office of the Regional Disaster Response Advisor (RDRA) in Dubai (UAE) in 2005 was followed by a decision to have this field presence develop into a Regional Office (RO). This decision stemmed from the realization that Dubai could serve as an important support hub and play a useful catalytic role in a number of other domains in conjunction with the originally envisaged RDRA-related activities.

At present the RO – MENAIA is mandated to cover and provide humanitarian coordination support to 21 countries and territories. Currently, OCHA has ‘country’ offices in two locations within the MENAIA region (Jerusalem and Tehran) and provides support in terms of personnel to the UN Missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In countries where there is no OCHA presence, the RO interfaces with the respective UN Resident Coordinator offices. In 2006, the objectives of the RO are: improved capacity of national counterparts and the UN system in MENAIA region within the domain of natural disaster and emergency preparedness and response; strengthened humanitarian partnerships and networks in the MENAIA region; and enhanced provision of humanitarian information and other support services.


  • Backstopping, coordination surge capacity and emergency deployments to OCHA and UN RC offices in the region as well as organization and/or participation in needs assessment and exploratory missions in conjunction with related training exercises and activities.
  • Assessments and mapping of national and/or regional disaster response mechanisms and coordination systems and the relationship between those systems and the wider international disaster response system.
  • Support and facilitate the drawing up of national and/or regional disaster risk management plans with governments, UNCTs and OCHA offices in the region.
  • Early warning and humanitarian ‘scanning’ activities for the MENAIA region including advice to HQ and other stakeholders as to required action (deployment) and follow-up.
  • Provision of timely information products on urgent and key humanitarian issues.
  • Further introduction of various OCHA-managed emergency response tools and various standby arrangements (e.g. UNDAC, INSARAG, the OCHA-UNEP Environmental Emergencies Section, the International Humanitarian Partnership) in the region through trainings, seminars and other events with a view to increase participation, membership and contributions of MENAIA countries.
  • Serve as field focal point for the initiative to enhance Humanitarian Dialogue and New Partnerships in the Middle East.
  • Improve tracking of humanitarian funding flows within and from the region and the initiation of a dialogue with governments in the region as regards the various options for donor fund disbursement.
  • Assess options for a web-based regional humanitarian community resource in collaboration with the Dubai-based IRIN Middle East service and other IRIN offices (e.g. Ankara, Islamabad).


  • Number of national counterparts and UN staff trained on natural disasters and emergency preparedness response and percent of those trained that rate training as effective (through post-training surveys).
  • Number of new humanitarian partnerships.
  • Number of focal points at the national and regional level as an essential component of the response to any major disaster or emergency in the region.
  • Percent of office positions filled.
Planned Staffing Extra-budgetary
Local (GS)
UN Volunteers
Staff costs (US$)
Non-staff costs (US$)
Total costs (US$)