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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Occupied Palestinian territory - Myanmar - Syria

16 Jul 2021

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Up to 1 million people are at risk due to severe interruptions to Alouk Water Station in north-east Syria. © UNICEF

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 16 July 2021

Syria

The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Imran Riza, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Muhannad Hadi, and UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Ted Chaiban, yesterday in a joint statement expressed concern about severe interruptions to Alouk Water Station, putting up to 1 million people at risk.

Since November 2019, the Alouk water station, which directly provides clean drinking water to nearly 460,000 people, has been disrupted at least 24 times. 

The station has stopped operating since 23 June due to a number of factors, including reduced access for technicians to carry out maintenance and repairs and insufficient electricity, effectively and immediately limiting access to water across Al-Hasakeh governorate. 

In total, up to 1 million people are impacted, including many of the most vulnerable displaced families living in camps and informal settlements. 

As COVID-19 cases remain an ongoing threat, and with limited availability of vaccines, adequate and uninterrupted access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene are a critical first line of defense to stem transmission of the pandemic. 

Reports also refer to other essential services have been impacted in the north-east in recent months, including electricity. Cuts in electricity also impact the operation of critical civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and health facilities. 

The UN officials call for the resumption of water and electricity services and the protection of civilians’ access to water, and sanitation and remind all parties that water stations are civilian infrastructure which should be protected at all times. They also continue to urge all parties to immediately provide safe passage and regular and unimpeded access for technical and humanitarian personnel so that Alouk water station can operate without further interruption. 

Myanmar

The UN in Myanmar is concerned about the impact of the ongoing hostilities in certain parts of the country between the Myanmar Armed Forces and different ethnic armed groups as well as “people’s defense forces”, where over 220,000 have been internally displaced since 1 February.  

This includes the displacement of around 170,000 people in south-eastern parts of the country, particularly in Kayah and Kayin states (according to UNHCR), as well as the displacement of another 50,000 people in north-east and western parts of the country. The majority of them remain displaced to date, unable to return home due to insecurity. 

The UN and its partners are making efforts to reach around 3 million people with assistance and protection services across the country. This includes 1 million conflict-affected people previously identified and a further 2 million people, mostly in urban and per-urban areas of Yangon and Mandalay cities and in the south eastern part of the country due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed clashes and the ongoing situation since 1 February.

Humanitarian assistance, however, is facing several challenges on top of cumbersome pre-existing travel authorization processes.  This includes limited access to certain parts of the country experiencing hostilities, road blockages and overall insecurity as well as disruptions to banking systems and limited availability of cash. 

The response efforts are also complicated due to lack of funds; as of 16 July, only US$76 million has been received against the US$276.5 million requested under the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan, which represents a little over 27 per cent. This funding requirement is in addition to over US$109 million urgently required to reach people in need of assistance and protection services following the 1 February events.

Occupied Palestinian territory

OCHA says that on Wednesday, 84 Palestinians lost their homes in the herding community of Ras al-Tin, in the Ramallah governorate. Israeli forces confiscated at least 49 structures, according to initial humanitarian assessments. 

This community resides here every summer for grazing land and are now at heightened risk of forcible transfer from the area.

The structures include homes, animal shelters and solar power systems. Other items, including water tanks, tractors with trailers and animal fodder were also confiscated. 

Israeli forces also dismantled and confiscated a residential structure yesterday in Humsa Al Bqai’a, in the northern Jordan Valley. The structure had been accommodating a family of eight, including six children.

So far in 2021, the Israeli authorities have demolished, seized or forced people to demolish at least 474 Palestinian-owned structures, including 150 donor-funded ones, displacing 656 people, including 359 children, across the West Bank. This represents a near 70 per cent increase in the number of people displaced, with a near 75 per cent increase in children, compared with the equivalent period in 2020.

The UN has repeatedly called on Israel to halt its demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property and bring its conduct in line with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.