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oPt: US$539.7M urgently needed to support the humanitarian needs of 1.9M Palestinians in 2018

14 Mar 2018
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Today, the Minister of Social Development of the State of Palestine, H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Shaer, and the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, launched the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2018, to support the humanitarian needs of 1.9 million Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

The 2018 HRP appeals for US$539.7 million to address urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. If funding is secured, humanitarian actors will be able to enhance the protection of Palestinians living under military occupation, improve vulnerable people’s access to basic services, and support the ability of Palestinians to cope with and overcome crises.

“In recent years, lack of funding has led to unfortunate reductions in humanitarian relief for Palestinians in acute need across Gaza and the West Bank, including Jerusalem,” said Minister Al-Shaer. “We have also seen regrettable attempts to politicize aid work.”

“For the first time, this year’s humanitarian plan was prepared as part of a three-year strategy,” said Mr. McGoldrick. “This approach enhances connections with other strategies, including those related to development efforts, while increased respect for international law and longer-term solutions are pursued.”

The 2018 plan consists of 240 projects to be implemented by 99 organizations, including 51 national and 35 international NGOs, and 13 UN agencies. Approximately 75 per cent of the requested funds target Gaza, where humanitarian needs are highest due to Israel’s prolonged blockade and recurrent hostilities, further exacerbated by the impact of internal Palestinian divisions and Egypt’s restrictions on the Rafah crossing.

“Here, in Gaza, we have some of the worst affected Palestinian families. Our strategy has been tailored to help them and other Palestinians in the oPt as much as possible, while advocating for an end to the policies that are generating humanitarian needs, including territorial fragmentation and the blockade, among other issues,” Mr. McGoldrick added. “To succeed, we need not only the generous support of donors, which is critical to avoiding further deterioration, but also strong political action to bring an end to this policy-driven crisis.”

“Gaza teeters on the edge of a catastrophe,” Minister Al-Shaer concluded. “Humanitarian needs will deepen in the Gaza Strip, in both severity and complexity, as long as the illegal Israeli blockade remains. The Palestinian government is keen to build synergies between humanitarian aid and development cooperation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Overall, ending the occupation is the most direct, practical and durable solution for Palestinian grievances.”

CERF and oPt Humanitarian Fund step in to help fill funding gap

Recognizing the urgent humanitarian needs and deep funding shortage, especially in oPt, Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock released yesterday US$30 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to urgently support humanitarian services for the Palestine refugees in need of assistance through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“CERF is one of the fastest and most effective ways to get urgent aid to people whenever and wherever they need it the most,” said ERC Lowcock. “This funding enables UNRWA and partners to respond immediately to the most critical needs and prevent a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation, particularly in Gaza. I urge all donors to contribute to CERF and help the fund do more of its life-saving work.”

An exceptional grant of $15 million will enable UNRWA to avoid disruption of life-saving food assistance to vulnerable refugees in the oPt, where over 2.5 million people are currently in dire need of humanitarian assistance. A loan of $15 million will support UNRWA’s life-saving humanitarian activities in oPt and in its other fields of operation, until additional funding is received.

In February, the oPt Humanitarian Fund released approximately US$900,000 for health and food support over the next six months to around 140,000 Palestinians, almost half of them children, in dozens of West Bank communities, including in East Jerusalem. The Fund supports the delivery of strategic humanitarian response identified under Humanitarian Response Plan, while retaining the flexibility to allocate funds to unforeseen events or special requirements.

Through this grant, the oPt HF will support the deployment of six medical teams in 39 communities, mainly in Area C, where they will provide primary health care in mobile clinics. The funds will also cover the distribution of food to Bedouin and herding communities assessed as vulnerable to food insecurity. These communities are also at risk of forcible transfer. The project will be implemented by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The food component will be carried out jointly with the World Food Programme.

ERC Lowcock and Humanitarian Coordinator McGoldrick continue to advocate with donors for timely and generous support to humanitarian action in oPt, and to the OCHA-managed humanitarian funds.