Question of Palestine home
UNRWA - Rapport annuel du Commissaire général
26 October 1995
Supplement No. 13 (A/50/13)
Report of the Commissioner-General
of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
1 July 1994-30 June 1995
Symbols of United Nations documents are composed of capital letters combined with figures. Mention of such a symbol indicates a reference to a United Nations document.
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL .............................. v
LETTER DATED 4 OCTOBER 1995 FROM THE
CHAIRMAN OF THE ADVISORY COMMISSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND
WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES
IN THE NEAR EAST ADDRESSED TO THE
COMMISSIONER-GENERAL ............................... vii
I. INTRODUCTION ............................. 1 - 57 1
II. GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS IN AGENCY PROGRAMMES. 58 - 98 15
A. Education .......................... 58 - 67 15
B. Health.............................. 68 - 76 17
C. Relief and social services.......... 77 - 85 20
D. Income generation .................. 86 - 91 22
E. Extraordinary measures for Lebanon
and the occupied territory ......... 92 - 95 24
F. Peace Implementation Programme ..... 96 - 98 25
III. FINANCIAL MATTERS ........................ 99 - 114 27
A. Fund structure ..................... 99 - 106 27
B. Biennial budget for 1996-1997 and
biennial expenditure for 1994-1995.. 107 - 108 28
C. Income and sources of funding ...... 109 28
D. Current financial situation ........ 110 - 114 29
IV. LEGAL MATTERS ............................ 115 - 129 31
A. Agency staff ....................... 115 - 121 31
B. Agency services and premises ....... 122 - 128 32
C. Claims against Governments ......... 129 34
V. JORDAN ................................... 130 - 142 35
A. Education .......................... 130 - 134 35
B. Health ............................. 135 - 137 36
C. Relief and social services ......... 138 - 142 37
VI. LEBANON .................................. 143 - 155 39
A. Education .......................... 143 - 147 39
B. Health ............................. 148 - 150 40
C. Relief and social services ......... 151 - 155 41
VII. SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC ..................... 156 - 167 44
A. Education .......................... 156 - 159 44
B. Health ............................. 160 - 163 45
C. Relief and social services ......... 164 - 167 45
VIII. OCCUPIED WEST BANK AND SELF-RULE AREA
OF JERICHO................................ 168 - 186 47
A. Education .......................... 168 - 174 47
B. Health ............................. 175 - 179 49
C. Relief and social services ......... 180 - 186 50
IX. SELF-RULE AREA OF THE GAZA STRIP ......... 187 - 210 53
A. Education .......................... 187 - 192 53
B. Health ............................. 193 - 202 54
C. Relief and social services ......... 203 - 210 57
I. Statistical and financial information .............. 60
II. Pertinent records of the General Assembly
and other United Nations bodies .................... 77
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
4 October 1995
I have the honour to submit to the General Assembly my annual report on the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period 1 July 1994 to 30 June 1995, in compliance with the request contained in paragraph 21 of resolution
of 8 December 1949 and with paragraph 8 of resolution
of 12 December 1958.
Although the peace process currently under way does not directly involve UNRWA, there is no doubt that its impact is felt by the Palestine refugees and has an indirect effect on UNRWA operations, as referred to in the following pages.
In the introduction in chapter I, I have referred to developments in the peace process in so far as these have affected Agency activities and operations and placed additional demands on Agency services. I have provided an update on the Agency's Peace Implementation Programme, cooperation with the United Nations offices and programmes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the move of headquarters from Vienna to the area of operations, the Agency's planning assumptions for the next five years, and the current financial situation. An overview of the Agency's activities in its five fields of operation, as well as special initiatives on behalf of Palestine refugees, is also provided.
Chapter II contains information on the Agency's three main programmes in education, health and relief and social services; on subprogrammes in income generation and job creation; on extraordinary measures for Lebanon and the occupied territory; and on the Peace Implementation Programme introduced by the Agency in October 1993.
Chapter III discusses financial and budgetary issues, the biennial budget for 1996-1997 and the biennial expenditure for 1994-1995; income and sources of funding; and the current financial situation, including the cash shortfall facing the Agency.
Chapter IV deals with legal matters, in particular those concerning Agency staff, services and premises, including new arrangements as a result of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area.
Chapter V refers to Agency activities and operations in Jordan, chapter VI deals similarly with Lebanon and chapter VII with the Syrian Arab Republic. Chapter VIII relates to the occupied West Bank and the self-rule Jericho Area, while chapter IX relates to the self-rule area of the Gaza Strip.
The annexes provide stat
istical and financial information related to the work of UNRWA and references to pertinent
records of the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies.
Following established practice, the report in draft form was distributed to the 10 members of the Advisory Commission in advance and comments and observations made were given careful consideration. The draft report was discussed with the Commission at a meeting on 4 October 1995. The Commission's views are contained in a letter addressed to me, dated 4 October 1995, from the Chairman of the Advisory Commission. A copy of this letter appears below.
I have maintained the practice of showing my report in draft form to representatives of the Government of Israel and giving due consideration to their comments, in the context of the situation prevailing in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1967 and the Agency's operations in those fields. Further to the General Assembly's decision on the Advisory Commission establishing a working relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization and an invitation to the PLO representative to attend the 4 October meeting of the Commission, a copy of the draft report was also shared with him.
Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.
President of the General Assembly
LETTER DATED 4 OCTOBER 1995 FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE ADVISORY COMMISSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES IN THE NEAR EAST ADDRESSED TO THE COMMISSIONER-GENERAL
At its regular meeting on 4 October 1995, the Advisory Commission of UNRWA considered your draft annual report on the Agency's activities and operations during the period 1 July 1994 to 30 June 1995, which is to be submitted to the General Assembly at its fiftieth session.
The Advisory Commission expressed great appreciation for the programme of assistance of UNRWA for 3.2 million Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Advisory Commission welcomed the signing of the Jordan-Israel treaty of peace on 26 October 1994 and the signing of the Palestinian-Israeli interim agreement on 28 September 1995. The Commission looks forward to full implementation of those agreements and to further progress on the Israel-Palestinian track. The Commission further expressed the hope that the peace process would continue along all tracks, including the Syria-Israel and Lebanon-Israel tracks.
The Commission strongly endorsed all positive steps as contributing to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace and a global solution to the problem of the Palestine refugees in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions. The Commission further hoped that those developments would have a positive impact on all Palestine refugees as well as the Agency's ability to deliver services.
The Commission commended UNRWA for its important work in the context of the Agency's Peace Implementation Programme. The Commission noted with appreciation that since the establishment of that Programme in October 1993, donors had generously contributed or pledged over $152 million to UNRWA for the implementation of critically needed infrastructure and income-generation and job-creation projects.
The Advisory Commission referred to the five-year preliminary perspective developed by UNRWA in the context of the transition period, on which the Agency had presented a working paper at a meeting at Amman in March 1995 attended by members of the Advisory Commission, the major donor and host Governments and the Palestinian Authority. The five-year planning framework was a useful mechanism through which the Agency's programme and financing needs could be brought to the attention of donors on a regular basis, with necessary revisions, although the Agency would retain its biennial budgetary cycle.
The Commission welcomed the emphasis placed by participants at the Amman meeting on the need for UNRWA's services to continue until a political solution was found to the refugee problem. They agreed that it was premature to place a time-limit on UNRWA's existence since its services would be required until there was an agreed solution to the refugee problem, and expressed the hope that, at its fiftieth session, the General Assembly would extend the mandate of the Agency for another three-year period with further elaboration of a relevant plan of activities.
The Commission repeated the concern expressed in the preceding year over the continuing shortfall in the cash portion of the Agency's regular and emergency budgets, which was estimated at approximately US$ 4 million for 1995. The Agency had ended 1994 with a budget deficit of US$ 6 million; the present fiscal year was the third consecutive one which had ended with a shortfall, in spite of austerity measures introduced in 1993 which were still in effect, and despite the introduction of additional cost-saving measures in September 1994.
Under those circumstances, the Commission stressed the need for the Agency to receive sufficient funds to maintain the same level of assistance and services to the 3.2 million Palestine refugees that it had historically provided. The rationale for the support of UNRWA as an element of stability was more valid than ever and would remain so until a political solution to the refugee issue was found. The Commission hopes that donor countries and the international community will increase their contributions to the Agency, in order to cover the deficit and make Palestine refugees feel that the international community continues to care for them until a just and comprehensive solution is found for their problem.
The Commission expressed appreciation to the host Governments for the services provided to Palestine refugees and noted with approval the close cooperation existing between the Agency and the host Governments, as well as the close relationship established by UNRWA with the Palestinian Authority. The Commission wished to encourage the Agency to continue its efforts to harmonize its programmes and services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with those of the Palestinian Authority, in the interests of achieving a coherent programme of services and avoiding duplication of effort.
The Advisory Commission noted the progress achieved to date in the relocation of UNRWA's headquarters from Vienna to the area of operations. The Commission stressed the need for additional extrabudgetary contributions to complete the transfer of UNRWA's headquarters and requested the Agency to provide an updated plan for the transfer. The Commission also expressed concern over the difficulty experienced by the Agency in moving personnel and supplies into and out of the Gaza Strip, as a result of restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities.
The Commission took note with appreciation of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and expressed keen interest in the implementation of those recommendations by the Agency.
In conclusion, the Advisory Commission wished to express its great appreciation for your untiring efforts for the Palestine refugees and for your leadership of the Agency during a most critical period. The Commission also wished to commend all the Agency staff who have continued, often in extremely trying circumstances, to provide services for the Palestine refugees.
) Samir HOBEICA
Chairman of the Advisory Commission
Mr. Ilter Türkmen
United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
1. The period under review - 1 July 1994-30 June 1995 - was marked by the further development of the Middle East peace process and the broadening of the efforts of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to play an active role in the transitional period by bringing about substantive improvements in the socio-economic conditions of Palestine refugees. The arrangements for Palestinian autonomy took a significant step forward with the evolution of the Palestinian Authority into a functioning administrative body with responsibility in the self-rule areas of the Gaza Strip and Jericho and for a number of sectors in the West Bank. UNRWA was able to enter into a close working relationship with the Palestinian Authority and, within that new context, to focus in earnest on the harmonization of Agency and Palestinian Authority activities in the education, health and relief and social services fields in preparation for an eventual handover. While taking concrete steps to assist the nascent Palestinian Authority as it expanded its operational and institutional capacities, UNRWA undertook new initiatives to contribute to longer-term socio-economic advancement of the refugee population. Concurrently, and in support of the peace process, the Agency achieved considerable progress in the relocation of its Vienna headquarters to the area of operations.
2. Events during the year were underpinned by the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, signed by the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington on 13 September 1993, and the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, signed at Cairo on 4 May 1994. Following the redeployment of Israeli security forces away from main population centres in the Gaza Strip and their withdrawal from the self-rule area of Jericho, the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization arrived in the Gaza Strip in July 1994 and thereafter began exercising his duties as head of the Palestinian Authority from that location.
3. On 29 August 1994, the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed an agreement on the preparatory transfer of powers and responsibilities which provided for the transfer of control over five fields of activity in the West Bank - education and culture, health, social welfare, tourism and taxation - from Israeli to Palestinian authorities. The phased transfer of those powers took place in the last three months of 1994, even as the greater part of the West Bank remained under Israeli control. As the seat of both the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the newly empowered Palestinian Authority, the Gaza Strip became the focal point of UNRWA relations with the Palestinian leadership.
4. The broadening of the powers of the self-rule authority as called for in the Declaration of Principles was a welcome development. For the first time, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were enabled to manage their own affairs, albeit in limited spheres of civilian life. Thousands of refugees, mainly employees of the Palestinian Authority and members of the Palestinian Police Force, as well as their families, were able to return to those areas. Negotiations on the further redeployment of Israeli troops away from population centres in the West Bank, the holding of Palestinian elections and the further release of Palestinian prisoners, as envisaged in the Declaration of Principles, were ongoing as of mid-1995. The holding of elections would be a particularly important development which would serve to reinforce the achievements of the process thus far. The transfer of the remaining spheres of activity to the Palestinian Authority was also being discussed in parallel negotiations. It was hoped that the two sides would reach agreement on outstanding issues in due time so that the peace process could continue to move forward.
5. Palestine refugees in the self-rule areas, who comprised 22 per cent of all refugees registered with UNRWA, continued to benefit from the absence of the daily tension that had characterized the period prior to the Cairo Agreement. Israeli forces maintained a reduced presence inside the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, the population was no longer subject to punitive curfews, and commercial activity was restored to normal working hours. UNRWA schools, clinics and community centres functioned with minimal disruption for the first time since the beginning of the
and Israeli countermeasures in December 1987. With the normalization of everyday life came new efforts to rebuild and reconstruct both in the self-rule areas and in the occupied West Bank. The international community devoted unprecedented resources to improving infrastructure and promoting socio-economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which had long suffered from neglect. Those developments, combined with steady progress in the peace process, gave Palestinians renewed optimism about the future, an optimism tempered by intermittent violence and by the effects of closures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
6. As part of its support for the peace process and its commitment to the Palestine refugee community, UNRWA undertook to cooperate with and render assistance to the Palestinian Authority whenever possible. Underlying the Agency's efforts was the understanding its Agency operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would eventually be transferred to the Palestinian Authority as and when such a handover was deemed appropriate and feasible. The assumption by Palestinians of full control over the provision of education, health and other social services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would signal the end of the need for UNRWA services there. The Agency began to work towards the harmonization of its services with those being provided by the Palestinian Authority to ensure the similarity and complementarity of UNRWA systems with those being developed by the Palestinian Authority and to avoid duplication of inputs. Harmonization of services was viewed as a technical and administrative matter which would lay the groundwork for a smooth transfer of operations at a later date.
7. The establishment of Palestinian Authority departments in those sectors in which UNRWA operated provided the Agency with Palestinian interlocutors with whom to discuss practical arrangements for the harmonization of services at the operational level. UNRWA established coordination mechanisms with its counterparts in the education, health, and relief and social services sectors. The focus in the education sector was on substantive issues, such as the admission of returnee children to UNRWA schools, the introduction of a tenth year in the basic education cycle, teacher training and vocational programmes. Priority issues in the health sector included the Palestinian health insurance scheme, treatment of refugee patients in Palestinian Authority hospitals, school health services and immunization policies. The Agency's relief and social services programme was coordinated with the relevant Palestinian authorities on direct relief assistance, housing and land use in Gaza camps, housing for returnees, national plans for youth and children, and the improvement of sports facilities.
8. With its well-established infrastructure and long experience in providing essential services to Palestine refugees, UNRWA was uniquely positioned to serve as a resource for the nascent Palestinian Authority. To the extent permitted by available means, the Agency made every effort to meet requests for assistance from the Palestinian Authority and to provide technical assistance as the Authority strove to develop its own institutional capacity. UNRWA staff served on technical advisory committees set up by the Palestinian Authority in various sectors. The Agency accommodated over 4,300 children of returning refugee families in its Gaza schools, recruiting additional teachers for that purpose, and assisted in procurement of medical equipment and supplies for Palestinian Authority health institutions. Studies were conducted on vocational training and upgrading of health facilities, and prefabricated housing units provided for released detainees. The Agency allowed members of the police to receive treatment at its clinics in the Jericho Area and temporarily assigned an ambulance unit to the Jericho police medical service.
9. At the request of the Secretary-General, UNRWA administered the payment of the salaries of 9,000 members of the Palestinian Police Force from funds contributed by donors. The technical mechanism underlying that effort was set forth in a Memorandum of Understanding of 29 September 1994. The Secretary-General had stipulated that the United Nations should not incur financial obligations during the process and that it would be the role of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, on behalf of the donors, to mobilize the necessary resources. From September 1994 through March 1995, $29.8 million had been disbursed in the operation, in which UNRWA worked closely with the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO). Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 49/21 O of 13 April 1995, the Secretary-General requested UNRWA to continue to facilitate the payment of Palestinian Police Force salaries until the end of 1995, provided that additional voluntary contributions for that purpose were forthcoming.
10. UNRWA's commitment to supporting the peace process and to meeting the urgent needs of refugees in both the short and longer term was embodied in its Peace Implementation Programme (PIP), which had been introduced in October 1993 following consultations with the PLO leadership and with the Agency's major donors and drawing upon the recommendations of the Secretary-General's 1993 task force on the economic and social development of the Gaza Strip and Jericho. A comprehensive investment programme designed to contribute to improving infrastructure and stabilizing socio-economic conditions in the Agency's five fields of operation, PIP aimed to make the results of the peace process felt at the local level. While the main focus of the programme was infrastructure development - mainly through the construction and renovation of schools, clinics and community centres, the rehabilitation of shelters and the provision of adequate sewerage and drainage systems in camps - the programme also gave priority to supporting the Palestinian private sector through income-generation initiatives.
11. Through PIP, the Agency sought to make a decisive contribution to the infrastructure and economic resources available to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority preparatory to an eventual handover of services, while contributing in the short run to employment creation through construction projects. In developing the programme, UNRWA took particular care to include projects in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.
12. The first phase of the programme (PIP I) was concluded in September 1994, after receipt of $93.9 million in pledges and contributions from donors. With those funds, UNRWA was able to undertake construction of 31 schools, 70 classrooms and specialized rooms, 10 health centres or points, and 9 women's programme centres; construction of a new College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences in the Gaza Strip; rehabilitation of 5,650 shelters, including roof repair on 2,584 shelters in the Gaza Strip; granting of increased loans through the income-generation programme; construction of 1,309 garbage depository sites and manufacture of 900 refuse containers; feasibility studies for six environmental health projects; expansion of environmental health
facilities in Beach camp; comprehensive maintenance on the Gaza College of Nursing and 49 other UNRWA installations; and construction of 94 boundary walls around Agency buildings, among other projects. The majority of PIP I projects were in various stages of implementation by mid-1995. It was estimated that PIP I projects created over 5,500 jobs in the Gaza Strip alone for an average period of four months each. That factor assumed critical importance during the extended closures of the Gaza Strip which prevented Palestinian labourers from working in Israel.
13. PIP I evolved into the second phase of the programme, PIP II, which shared the same basic goals as its predecessor. PIP II was developed in coordination with the relevant departments of the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR). Special emphasis was placed on the environmental health sector, in which UNRWA had developed comprehensive proposals for internal sewerage and storm-water drainage systems, and on assisting the Palestinian Authority in addressing the needs of returnees, particularly in the education sector. Approximately $311 million in projects had been developed under PIP II by mid-1995, including $78 million in unfunded projects transferred from PIP I, with a total of $29.8 million received by mid-1995 in pledges or contributions. PIP II was expected to be the last major investment initiative undertaken by UNRWA.
14. Development of an infrastructure to adequately provide the services needed by the refugee population currently and into the future remained a top UNRWA priority through its regular programmes and under PIP. In the Gaza Strip, where the existing infrastructure had long suffered from neglect and was insufficient to meet the requirements of a growing population, the need for improvement was most evident. The Agency's most ambitious undertaking was construction of the 232-bed Gaza General Hospital, which would significantly alleviate the shortage of hospital beds in the Gaza Strip and provide medical services not readily available to the population. By mid-1995, the structure of the hospital complex had been finished and work was in progress on interior finishing and the installation of equipment, with completion expected in early 1996. Construction began on the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, which would be affiliated with Gaza General Hospital and would provide it and local health institutions with qualified health staff. In the environmental health sector, UNRWA was working to install a $4.3 million internal sewerage system in Beach camp which would improve sanitation conditions for its 63,000 residents. The Agency also worked to improve and expand the infrastructure newly taken over by the Palestinian Authority from the Israeli Civil Administration, building one secondary school, renovating 14 Palestinian Authority schools, upgrading municipal garbage depository sites and undertaking maintenance on existing water and sewerage systems.
15. UNRWA was able to play an increasingly active role in the multilateral track of the peace process established by the parties to the Peace Conference on the Middle East, convened at Madrid in 1991. As part of the United Nations delegation, UNRWA regularly attended the meetings of the Multilateral Working Group on Refugees, and at the group's seventh meeting, convened at Antalya, Turkey, in December 1994, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency headed the United Nations delegation. The Agency also attended the working group's inter-sessional meetings on technical matters. At the invitation of the various shepherds of the working group, UNRWA participated in the technical meetings on family reunification, public health, databases and inventory of assistance to Palestine refugees. A number of academic and research institutions commissioned by the respective shepherds of the working group to undertake specific research on the ground were assisted by UNRWA in its fields of operation. In addition, the Agency attended some plenary sessions of the Multilateral Working Group on Regional Economic Development. The experience gained by UNRWA during its 45 years of operations was welcomed by all participants in those meetings. Through its participation in the multilateral efforts to support the peace process, the Agency was given an opportunity to make better known the size, scope and objectives of its operations. Its Peace Implementation Programme consequently received additional support and funding.
16. After the arrival of the Secretary-General's Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories and the establishment of UNSCO, UNRWA set up close working relations with the Special Coordinator's Office, participating in the meetings of the Local Aid Coordination Committee and providing the secretariat for the Committee's working group on the environment. UNRWA also seconded a staff member to UNSCO.
17. UNRWA's ongoing operations benefited from its close cooperation with a number of United Nations agencies, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). During the period under review, agreement was reached with UNESCO and WHO, both of which seconded staff to UNRWA, on the conversion of posts from international to area status. That move would increase the role and level of Palestinians as senior managers, as well as effect savings. UNRWA participated in a regional immunization campaign sponsored by WHO and, in conjunction with WHO, undertook the development of a special curriculum on prevention of HIV/AIDS and a programme to prevent the start of tobacco use. The Agency's expanded maternal health and family-planning programme in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was implemented jointly with UNFPA. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA cooperated with UNICEF and non-governmental organizations on a programme of summer camps, participated in a job-creation programme for released prisoners and disabled youths sponsored by the Palestinian Authority and the ILO, and cooperated with UNDP and UNICEF on a project to upgrade youth activity centres.
18. UNRWA took significant steps towards the relocation of its Vienna headquarters to the Gaza Strip, in accordance with the decision of the Secretary-General and General Assembly resolution
of 9 December 1994. The relocation of UNRWA headquarters would serve to demonstrate the commitment of the United Nations to the peace process, underline its confidence in the Palestinian Authority and contribute to the economic development of the Gaza Strip. In conjunction with the United Nations Secretariat, the Agency developed a detailed budget and action plan for the move, including the design of a new headquarters building in Gaza Town. UNRWA's preliminary estimate of $22 million to cover the costs of the move was subsequently revised to $13.5 million following a detailed study of the expense involved and consultation with the United Nations Secretariat.
19. As the Agency's donors had stipulated that the move not be funded out of UNRWA's regular budget, the Secretary-General and the Agency took the necessary steps to obtain separate funding for it. By mid-1995, UNRWA had received for the move over $4 million in pledges or contributions, a sum which allowed it to begin construction of the headquarters building while efforts were under way to obtain the remaining funds. The Commissioner-General opened an office in Gaza in November 1994, and the Agency's General Cabinet began holding its biannual meetings in Gaza as of December 1994. A nucleus headquarters unit established in Gaza in early 1995 included the Agency's Compensation and Management Services Division. By mid-1995, there were 16 headquarters staff in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Progress was made towards acquisition and installation of satellite communications equipment that would be necessary for headquarters to maintain contact with its operations in other fields. Efforts were under way to conclude a headquarters agreement with the Palestinian Authority and a related agreement with the Israeli authorities.
20. The transfer of UNRWA headquarters (Vienna) to the Gaza Strip coincided with the separate relocation of a number of Vienna-based operational units to headquarters (Amman), where new annexes were built for that purpose. The Agency's departments of health and relief and social services and its offices for programme planning and evaluation and for motor transport completed their relocation to Amman in July 1994, and its supply division was scheduled to become operational in Amman as at 1 July 1995. The relocation of those units involved 10 international posts and brought the total headquarters staff based in Amman to 11 international staff and 58 area staff. The Agency was able to recruit qualified local staff to fill the positions of Vienna-based area staff who chose not to move to Amman. With the transfer of those units UNRWA's three main programme departments and a significant number of support units were now located in Amman, as was the Acting Deputy Commissioner-General of the Agency.
21. The final resolution of the refugee problem, the timing of a handover of UNRWA services to Palestinians and the eventual dissolution of the Agency were pending issues which gave rise to a general atmosphere of uncertainty among the refugee community and Agency staff. Staff fears of the imminent dissolution of UNRWA, the non-payment of end-of-service benefits and the lack of job security were voiced on numerous occasions by staff representatives. The Palestine refugee community expressed concern that it would no longer have access to the essential services provided by UNRWA. Those understandable and legitimate concerns constituted a potentially destabilizing factor. With its 21,000 employees and well-established infrastructure and services, UNRWA had long been regarded as a force of stability in the region. At a time when the success of the peace process was increasingly linked to improvements in the socio-economic conditions of refugees, it was more important than ever that UNRWA be able to continue to conduct its operations without disruption.
22. It was in the context of the transformation of UNRWA's role in the region and the need to provide the refugee community with a clearer indication of what to expect from the Agency in the transitional period of the peace process that it convened at Amman in March 1995 an informal meeting of major donor and host Governments. UNRWA proposed a five-year financial and planning horizon to coincide with the interim period set out in the Declaration of Principles, an idea it had first put forth in June 1994. The aim was to establish for the donors, the host countries and the Palestinian Authority a financial framework for the costs of UNRWA services in each of its fields and in each of its programme areas during the interim period.
23. A clear consensus arose that UNRWA services were a crucial element in the success of the peace process and would continue to be required until such time as a political solution to the refugee problem was found. The participants agreed that it was premature to place a time-limit on UNRWA's existence, as the period for which its services would be required could not be predicted until there was an agreed solution to the refugee problem. The five-year time-frame was not linked to the dissolution of UNRWA but was instead to be used as a planning and programming tool and would be reviewed by the Advisory Commission and donor countries. In affirming their strong support for PIP II, the participants encouraged the Agency to minimize recurrent project costs and to ensure that the implementation of PIP II did not affect UNRWA's basic and essential services.
24. The participants agreed that the eventual transfer of UNRWA operations to the Palestinian Authority should be made when political, economic and financial conditions permitted, and at the request of the Authority, and that, until then, the Agency should focus on harmonization of services and coordination and cooperation with other agencies operating in the field. The major donor and host Governments took note of the financial projections put forward by UNRWA as a basis for estimating expenditures over a five-year period, and agreed that the Agency should include a provision for termination indemnities in the budget, beginning in 1996. Support was again expressed for the Agency's move from Vienna headquarters to the Gaza Strip.
25. The acceptance of UNRWA's proposals for the interim period provided a clearer picture of the Agency's future and its position with respect to the refugees and the donor community. Fears of an imminent dissolution of UNRWA were dispelled and the Agency had a set of parameters to guide its operations for the foreseeable future.
26. The ability of UNRWA to provide expanded services was constrained by the financial shortfalls which it experienced for the third consecutive year. The Agency noted with concern the inability of some donors to increase their contributions commensurate with UNRWA's annual budget growth of 5 per cent, the minimum possible increase to offset natural growth in the refugee population and rising costs in all fields caused by inflation. Unexpected emergency needs arising in the area of operations and requiring additional funds also contributed to the deficit. After carrying forward the $17 million in austerity measures imposed in 1993 in response to a deficit in that year, UNRWA reduced the 1994-1995 biennium budget by a further $7.5 million in September 1994 in order to accommodate unavoidable cost increases.
27. The Agency closed 1994 with a deficit of $6 million, which reduced its working capital to $16.6 million. The actual 1994 deficit was substantially lower than the projected deficit of $21 million noted in last year's report.
/ As at 30 June 1995, UNRWA estimated a 1995 shortfall of $16 million, which if realized would virtually eliminate its working capital. The amount of the shortfall did not include the cost of lifting the balance of the austerity measures, which would require an additional $11.2 million.
28. The disappearance of the Agency's working capital would mean that any deficit recorded in future years would have the effect not merely of a freeze on growth but of reducing existing services. Such an outcome would be particularly undesirable, given the fact that the Agency's budget had to expand over time to maintain current levels of services. As the Agency could not limit the size of the refugee population, simply maintaining contributions at their current level would place an increasing strain on existing resources, amounting to a de facto reduction. The austerity measures included a general salary freeze and cuts in the budget for additional teacher posts, which over time would produce a similar negative effect on the quality of UNRWA services.
29. The cumulative effect of those deficits placed UNRWA in a particularly tenuous position with respect to its ability to continue to fulfil its mandate. The Agency's considered opinion was that, in the absence of additional funding to cover anticipated shortfalls, there would be no alternative but to effect a substantial reduction of services commencing as early as 1996. Such an outcome could well result in a premature handover of services to the Palestinian Authority and host Governments in advance of suitable arrangements for the handover. The burden that would place on the receiving parties, particularly the Palestinian Authority, which in the interim period was still developing its own capacities, would be in the interests neither of the parties directly concerned nor of the refugees themselves.
30. That eventuality would additionally reinforce the opinion of many refugees that UNRWA was being dissolved prior to a satisfactory resolution of the refugee issue and as the result of a deliberate decision on the part of the international community. It was regrettable that, at a time when the Agency was being called upon to exert increasing efforts on behalf of the refugees and the Palestinian Authority, it was unable to obtain sufficient funding to continue to provide its core services at their existing level. The Agency hoped that the imbalance between the funding made available for special initiatives and that for regular programmes would be rectified in the near future.
31. Despite significant progress in the implementation of the agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, conditions in the occupied West Bank remained tense and the self-rule areas continued to be negatively affected by Israeli measures, in explanation of which the Israeli authorities invariably invoked security considerations. The ongoing restriction on movement imposed by Israeli authorities remained of particular concern to the Agency. Palestinians holding identification cards from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were prohibited from entering East Jerusalem and Israel without a special permit. A separate permit was required for Palestinians to be able to hold a job in Israel and travel to their place of work. Those measures generally restricted the normal flow of people, goods and services between the two areas and within the West Bank itself, hampering economic activity and interfering with the daily life of residents. During the period under review, thousands of Palestinians, mainly labourers, were arrested and fined for being in Israel without a permit.
32. In addition, the Israeli authorities sealed the West Bank and Gaza Strip entirely on several occasions, preventing even those with valid permits from entering Israel and East Jerusalem. Following a bombing incident in Beit Lid on 22 January 1995, in which 21 Israelis were killed and over 60 injured, the West Bank and Gaza Strip were closed completely for two weeks; labourers were unable to return to their jobs in Israel for 25 days. After a 21 March 1995 incident in which a truck driver from Gaza tried to explode a bomb in Israel, temporary restrictions were imposed on the entry and exit of commodities from the Gaza Strip, resulting in delays in construction projects because of a scarcity of building materials.
33. The generalized imposition of the permit system and the intermittent sealing of the West Bank and Gaza Strip exacerbated the economic hardship of those areas. With a significant proportion of the Palestinian labour force reliant on employment in Israel, those measures had a direct impact on the income of thousands of families. In response, UNRWA undertook emergency food distributions in July 1994 and March 1995 and provided additional in-kind aid to families in Gaza through non-governmental organizations. The limited outbreak of cholera which took place in the Gaza Strip in late 1994 was an example of the poor social and economic conditions in which refugees were living. UNRWA remained concerned that despite the generous assistance provided by the international community for reconstruction and development initiatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the continued lack of improvement in the socio-economic circumstances of refugees would jeopardize the fruits of the peace process.
34. Restriction on movement and security measures imposed by the Israeli authorities continued to interfere with UNRWA's operations during the period under review. Official UNRWA vehicles driven by holders of a United Nations laissez passer, including senior Agency officials, frequently experienced undue delays at border crossings. In several instances, vehicles were searched, and in the course of one search the Agency was forced to open its diplomatic pouch for inspection. UNRWA and the United Nations protested those incidents, asserting that United Nations vehicles were immune from search under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the 1967 Comay-Michelmore agreement. UNRWA also experienced lengthy delays in obtaining clearance from the Israeli authorities for construction projects in the West Bank, and in another case the Agency's official bullet-proof car was rendered unusable as the result of an Israeli customs inspection. UNRWA remained deeply concerned about the nature and frequency of such incidents, especially in view of the relocation of headquarters to the Gaza Strip.
35. UNRWA area staff from the West Bank experienced difficulty in obtaining Israeli permits to enter the Gaza Strip, while those in the Gaza Strip faced similar problems in leaving the Strip. During sealings of the West Bank, UNRWA staff working in Jerusalem but residing outside the city were unable to reach their place of work. The shortage of commodities produced by the sealing of the Gaza Strip in early 1995 caused a 10-15 day delay in UNRWA construction projects. Students from Gaza, particularly men, were unable to obtain permits to attend Agency training centres in Ramallah and Kalandia. Nevertheless, relations between the Government of Israel and UNRWA continued to be characterized by increasing cooperation.
36. In that part of the West Bank which remained under Israeli military occupation, clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces and the resulting Israeli countermeasures continued throughout the year. The Israeli authorities took severe measures against Palestinians suspected of involvement in violence against Israelis and of opposition to the peace process. Campaigns were carried out in West Bank towns and villages, leading to the arrest of thousands of Palestinians. In many cases, the houses of suspected activists were demolished or sealed by military order, measures that had not been used since January 1993. Twenty-four mosques and seven schools were closed during the year on the grounds that they were centres of agitation. Operations by Israeli undercover and special units resulted in the death of 19 Palestinians during the year. Israeli security forces also continued to attack buildings housing suspected militants with anti-tank missiles; such operations resulted in three fatalities over the year. In all, 86 Palestinians and 69 Israelis were killed during the reporting period as a result of the continuing unrest. The increased tensions created by the continuation of violent incidents posed one of the greatest threats to the success of the peace process.
37. In the West Bank town of Hebron, tensions remained high between the Israeli army and the approximately 400 settlers living in the city centre, and the town's 120,000 residents. Clashes, curfews and incidents of settler violence occurred at a notably higher rate than in other parts of the West Bank. The mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), established by Security Council resolution
of 18 March 1994 in the wake of the 25 February 1994 massacre at the Mosque of Ibrahim in Hebron, expired in July 1994. With the departure of the TIPH forces, the Agency's Refugee Affairs Officer (RAO) programme resumed its operations in Hebron. Created in 1988 as a means of providing passive protection, the RAO programme would continue to function in the West Bank until incidents associated with Israeli military occupation ceased. With the decline in unrest, the programme was gradually reduced from 12 staff members to four during the period under review. The RAO programme had been discontinued in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area following the implementation of the Cairo Agreement of May 1994.
38. The situation of the 6,000 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons, many of them refugees, remained unresolved. The fate of the prisoners was a key issue in the talks between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority. Lack of progress on the issue led to the declaration of an open-ended hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Jneid prison on 18 June 1995, subsequently joined by prisoners in other Israeli prisons and supported by demonstrations, strikes and sit-ins throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In August 1994, the Israeli authorities had released 260 prisoners within the framework of the provisions of the Cairo Agreement. It was hoped that a resolution of the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails could soon be found.
39. Despite the progress achieved in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the peace process, construction in settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and expropriation of Palestinian land continued. The Israeli Government announced that it would release state or public land, much of which had been previously expropriated from Palestinians, for private construction of housing in certain settlements, and designated some West Bank land to be developed as quarries for Israeli use. In the latter half of 1994, the Israeli authorities demolished 53 unlicensed houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the largest such campaign in several years and the first time demolition of unlicensed houses had taken place since mid-1993. During the period under review, 78 unlicensed dwellings were demolished in the West Bank.
40. UNRWA's relationship with the Government of Jordan remained excellent as the Agency worked to build up its headquarters operations in Amman. Jordan hosted the largest refugee population, comprising some 40 per cent of all refugees registered with UNRWA. Refugees in Jordan continued to benefit from the services provided by the Government, and the refugee community enjoyed a relatively high degree of socio-economic well-being and security. Indeed, the Government and UNRWA played complementary roles in providing services. The opening of new Government schools in or near refugee camps helped to relieve the overcrowding in Agency schools. Similarly, the access of refugees to Government hospitals obviated the need for UNRWA to provide a reimbursement scheme for hospital services and made its health expenses in Jordan the lowest of the five fields. The Agency noted increased levels of socio-economic hardship among the refugee population, however, as evidenced in an increase in demand for special hardship assistance and for medical care at UNRWA clinics.
41. The Agency's efforts to develop its infrastructure in Jordan, which were commensurate with the funds made available by donors, included the initiation or completion of construction on seven schools and three health facilities. By mid-1995, UNRWA had received a total of $4.7 million in pledges and contributions under PIP for projects in Jordan. The value of other projects under implementation in the field at the end of June 1995 was $3.5 million, while the 1995 budget for ongoing programmes was $71.6 million. UNRWA welcomed the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in October 1994. Similarly, the several agreements signed between the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanian Government during the year indicated a degree of cooperation which could only be to the advantage of the refugee community.
42. In Lebanon, the increasing normalization of national life, notwithstanding sporadic outbursts of violence in Israeli-controlled south Lebanon and in the Beqa'a region, brought to the forefront the need to address long-standing social and economic problems. The Government was addressing those problems within available means, but UNRWA was unable to undertake rehousing for some 3,000 displaced Palestinian families, to complete infrastructure rehabilitation projects within some refugee camps or to expand school and health facilities. The prohibitively high cost of education at private schools forced many refugee families to transfer their children to UNRWA schools. The Agency's efforts to provide secondary-level schooling, initiated with the founding of a school in Burj el-Barajneh, met with a very positive response among the refugee community.
43. Given the difficult living conditions in Lebanon, the situation of Palestine refugees, who faced serious constraints in finding jobs, remained a matter of serious concern to UNRWA. The sharply increased need for funds for hospitalization and the problem of displaced Palestinian families were acute additional problems. However, despite prevailing constraints, the Agency was able to complete a sewerage system in Burj el-Barajneh camp, receive 1,600 more Palestinian pupils in the 1994/95 academic year than in the preceding year and renovate four schools in the Saida and Tyre areas. With the assistance of compensation monies from the Central Fund for the Displaced, UNRWA completed a multi-storey housing project in Ein el-Hilweh camp for 118 families who had been squatting. The Agency received a pledge of $6.7 million to fund construction of water and sewerage networks in eight camps. As of mid-1995, UNRWA had received $5.5 million in PIP pledges and contributions for Lebanon and was implementing an additional $1.3 million worth of projects. The Agency's 1995 budget for ongoing programmes in Lebanon was $37.6 million.
44. UNRWA's historically close contacts with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic continued during the period under review. The Government and UNRWA cooperated in improving the water network in Neirab camp, enabling the camp population of 15,000 to have access to water. The Agency worked closely with the Syrian Ministry of Health to coordinate measures for disease surveillance and control and cooperated with the Ministry in arranging in-kind donations of medical supplies. UNRWA provided assistance to 353 families relocated from Jaramana camp to a multi-storey housing project in Husseinieh. The project for the rehousing of families living in dilapidated army barracks in Neirab camp, mentioned in last year's report, was awaiting the approval of the Syrian Government. In consultation with the donor, the Agency was seeking to reprogramme the funds to improve the living conditions of refugees in the camp.
45. The movement of refugee families to the Gaza Strip and Jordan led to a decrease in enrolment in UNRWA schools in the Syrian Arab Republic from the preceding year, although overcrowding remained a serious problem. Construction was completed or in progress on three schools and three health centres. UNRWA was able to make much-needed improvements to the Damascus Training Centre which considerably improved the quality of training. Under PIP, the Agency had received $4.2 million in contributions and pledges for the Syrian Arab Republic by mid-1995. Projects under implementation at mid-year were valued at $2 million; the 1995 budget for ongoing programmes was $25.9 million. UNRWA welcomed the progress made in talks between the Syrian and Israeli Governments.
46. While taking on new roles and responsibilities in response to changing conditions, UNRWA continued to fulfil its basic mission of providing essential education, health, and relief and social services to the 3.2 million Palestine refugees registered with the Agency in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some 408,861 elementary, preparatory and secondary school pupils were enrolled in UNRWA's 644 schools during the 1994/95 academic year, and some 4,568 trainees participated in vocational and technical education courses at the Agency's eight training centres. University scholarships were awarded to 863 refugee pupils on the basis of the results of secondary-school examinations. UNRWA handled 6.5 million patient visits through its network of 123 health centres and points, which guaranteed refugees access to quality primary health care. Of those facilities, 76 provided dental care, 84 accommodated laboratories, 110 offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and 70 provided specialist services in cardiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology and paediatrics and for the treatment of ear, nose and throat diseases. Family-planning services and comprehensive mother and child care were available at 117 UNRWA health centres and points; during the period under review, 31,000 women accepted family planning and 73,000 women and 205,000 children received special care. Hospital services were delivered to refugees through contractual arrangements with Government and non-governmental hospitals and through a reimbursement mechanism for hospital expenses.
47. Under the Agency's special hardship programme, the neediest Palestine refugees received special assistance in the form of basic food rations, shelter rehabilitation, subsidized medical care, preferential access to vocational training centres and assistance in establishing income-generating projects. During the period under review, over 181,000 special hardship cases were receiving assistance, representing 5.7 per cent of the total registered refugee population. A range of social services was provided to over 17,000 refugees through the 71 women's programme centres, 29 community rehabilitation centres and 27 youth activity centres sponsored by UNRWA. The centres were increasingly managed by local community groups with partial financial and technical assistance from UNRWA. In 1994 the Agency employed 20,883 international and area staff in the five fields of operation; of those, 14,417 worked in education, 3,296 in health and 807 in relief and social services, with the remainder in common and operational services.
48. As part of its efforts to improve socio-economic conditions among the refugee population, UNRWA operated a number of income-generation programmes designed to support small-scale enterprises and generate employment opportunities. With declining standards of living both in the region in general and among the refugee population in particular, there was a critical need for initiatives that would produce immediate benefits on the ground and yet be sustainable over the longer term. The Agency's income-generation programmes sought to promote economic activity principally by addressing the lack of credit facilities available to small entrepreneurs and persons working on the margins of the economy. The Agency's revolving loan fund for small businesses, the largest of its income-generation initiatives, provided loans to entrepreneurs through local banks. During the period under review, loans averaging $15,000 were issued to 169 businesses, creating or saving some 460 jobs. The fund was best established in the Gaza Strip, where its capital base of over $4 million and its overall loan recovery rate of 98 per cent made it the most successful income-generation programme in the area, representing the largest investment in the private sector in the Gaza Strip.
49. In the Gaza Strip, UNRWA also ran a solidarity-group lending programme for women working in the informal sector of the economy, mainly as street vendors. Loans averaging $400 were provided to individual women organized into solidarity groups which acted as a loan-guarantee mechanism. At mid-1995, 406 loans had been granted to women organized into 74 such groups. The Agency's poverty alleviation programme sought to raise the income of the neediest refugee families to a level that would allow them to be removed from the special hardship rolls. In addition to offering loans for self-support projects, the programme sought to support income-generating activities through skills training, apprenticeship placement and technical assistance, including courses on how to start a business. The Agency hoped that donors would continue to support its income-generating initiatives and allow it to build on its success in that sector.
50. Environmental health services were provided by UNRWA to over 1 million refugee camp residents in all five fields. The primary objective of the Agency's environmental health programme was to assure that acceptable environmental health standards were maintained in refugee camps to minimize morbidity, mortality and risk of outbreaks associated with environmental conditions and practices. Open sewers, inadequate drainage systems and use of seepage pits rather than sewers were common features in refugee camps, posing a direct health threat. Problems were most severe in the Gaza Strip, where only 30 per cent of shelters in refugee camps were connected to sewers and where sewer systems regularly backed up and flooded residential areas during the rainy season. The upgrading of environmental health conditions in Gaza was not only an urgent health need but a prerequisite for viable economic growth and prosperity. Thanks to a unique combination of technical capabilities and operational effectiveness, UNRWA was able to take the lead in the environmental health sector in the Gaza Strip and acquire a reputation for reliability. It was the only agency able to carry out the large-scale projects of which the area was in great need.
51. Using an approach which emphasized planning and project design, UNRWA conducted feasibility studies and detailed preliminary designs for the improvement of sewerage, drainage and solid waste management for 11 camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Construction of internal sewerage systems was in progress or had been completed in six camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Lebanon. It was hoped that donor support for those efforts would continue and that sufficient funding would be received to allow the Agency to use its substantial experience and resources to address environmental health problems in other fields as well.
52. The Agency continued to stress the importance of family health in its regular health care programme, cognizant of the fact that by the turn of the century, two thirds of the Palestine refugee population would consist of women of reproductive age and children under the age of 15. UNRWA health centres and points offered an expanded reproductive health and family-planning programme focusing on child health care, family-planning services and the continuity and quality of antenatal, natal and post-natal care. As part of the programme, supplementary nutritional assistance was provided to pregnant and nursing women and children under the age of two, and immunization and growth monitoring were provided for children up to age three. The new Division of Family Health was fully incorporated in the Agency's health programme, and 400 health staff were given training in skills relating to family health.
53. UNRWA's concern for the self-reliance of the refugee community and its commitment to the long-term viability of the programmes that it would eventually hand over made self-reliance and sustainability key themes of its activities. Where feasible and desirable, the Agency sought to introduce cost-sharing and self-support measures in its regular programmes. In the relief and social services sector, the Agency adopted in November 1994 a five-year plan for full community management of the women's programme centres, community rehabilitation centres and youth activity centres. Those organizations would be run by local community groups and be financially self-sufficient, supported by their own income-generating activities which UNRWA was helping to establish. The Agency would thereby ensure that its contributions in the social services field would continue to benefit the refugee community even after UNRWA was phased out.
54. In some fields, the families of refugee pupils continued to make nominal voluntary contributions to be used to finance maintenance and upkeep of school premises. In its shelter rehabilitation and environmental health programmes, the Agency offered materials and technical assistance to refugee families and local organizations to carry out voluntary construction and public works projects for the benefit of the community. Refugees shared health care costs through co-payment for hospital services. Nominal contributions and cost-sharing were not applied to special hardship cases. Together those measures ensured the efficient use of UNRWA resources and provided an important measure of participation by its beneficiaries in the Agency's provision of services.
55. With the signing of the Declaration of Principles, the conclusion of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel and the ongoing discussions between Syria and Israel, the stage was set for a turning-point in the destiny of the Palestine refugees. Although there were variations from country to country, it could be said that in general the refugees were caught between the hope for a better future and the fear that they might be neglected and even forgotten in the new political environment. The majority of refugees had not seen any concrete benefits from the peace process thus far. They suffered from the impact of new restrictions in some countries and were concerned that UNRWA services might be curtailed owing to political considerations or financial constraints.
56. Under those circumstances, it would be counter-productive if UNRWA did not receive sufficient funds to maintain the same level of assistance and services to the 3.2 million Palestine refugees that it had historically provided. The rationale for the support of UNRWA as an element of stability was more valid than ever and would remain so until a political solution to the refugee issue was found. The commencement of negotiations on the problem, as foreseen in the Declaration of Principles, would be likely to increase the level of anxiety and restlessness, as refugees followed the course of the discussions over their fate. At that stage, the continuation of UNRWA's traditional support for the refugee community and of Agency efforts to improve the living conditions of refugees would be indispensable as a social and political safety net.
57. It is the Commissioner-General's hope that the donor and host countries will consider the issues at stake from this perspective and will agree that the political benefits deriving from supporting UNRWA far outweigh the financial sacrifices required to fund the Agency adequately. What has happened in several regions of the world in the post-cold war era has amply demonstrated that timely international assistance can forestall a worsening of conditions that, in the end, will be much more costly for all concerned.
II. GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS IN AGENCY PROGRAMMES
58. UNRWA's close working relationship with the Palestinian Authority's education department in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area matured during the period under review, as the Palestinian Authority assumed control in September 1994 of the school system formerly run by the Israeli Civil Administration. The Joint Coordination Committee established between the education department and UNRWA in May 1994 held two meetings during the period under review to discuss the training of public-sector teaching staff, the rehabilitation of schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the admission of children of returning families to UNRWA schools, the development of the vocational and technical education programme, the introduction of the tenth grade in UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and related issues. The establishment of the Palestinian Authority occasioned the return to the Gaza Strip of thousands of refugees from other countries in the region, producing a marked increase in the student population of the Gaza Strip and a rather more moderate decrease in that of the Syrian Arab Republic. To accommodate the influx, UNRWA admitted 4,358 children of returning refugee families into its Gaza schools, recruiting additional teachers for that purpose. In response to requests from the Palestinian Authority for assistance, UNRWA carried out comprehensive maintenance on 14 Palestinian Authority schools in the Gaza Strip, installing such amenities as tile floors, metal window frames and asphalt roofing, in addition to making routine repairs.
59. As part of a wider effort to improve education infrastructure, UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority's education department formed a joint technical committee in September 1994 to survey public-sector schools throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, identify renovation needs and generate project proposals to submit to donors. The proposal prepared by UNRWA in the previous reporting period to provide in-service training for 12,000 public-sector teaching staff in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was withdrawn after the Palestinian Authority undertook its own initiative in that direction. The Agency commissioned and subsequently shared with the Palestinian Authority preparation of a study on prospects for vocational and technical education in the West Bank and Gaza which identified areas for improvement in their respective vocational training programmes.
60. By mid-1995, UNRWA had received $42.9 million for the improvement of its education infrastructure and other projects in the five fields of operation through phases I and II of the Peace Implementation Programme (PIP). During the period under review, through PIP donor funds and other sources, UNRWA completed construction of 17 new schools to replace unsatisfactory rented or prefabricated premises, nine additional classrooms to avoid triple shifting or to replace unsafe classrooms, and nine specialized rooms such as libraries and science laboratories; an additional 41 schools, 90 classrooms and six specialized rooms were under construction by mid-1995.
61. The need for new premises and facilities for the Agency's education programme remained high. Overcrowding continued to affect schools in all five fields, with 75 per cent of all UNRWA schools operating on a double shift and a significant number forced to operate in three shifts. Twenty per cent of UNRWA schools were housed in rented buildings that had not been designed as schools and therefore lacked appropriate facilities such as science laboratories, libraries and playgrounds. Many of those rented premises were also in poor condition, lacking adequate lighting and/or ventilation.
62. The Agency's Educational Sciences Faculty (ESF) provided in-service training to 365 UNRWA teachers and pre-service teacher training to 585 Palestine refugee secondary school graduates. The ESF had been established at the Amman and Ramallah training centres in September 1993 in response to a Jordanian Government requirement that teachers in the basic education cycle possess four-year university diplomas. The four-year pre-service programme granted university degrees in several teaching specializations; the three-year in-service programme aimed to upgrade the qualifications of UNRWA teachers holding two-year teacher training diplomas to the first university degree level. During the period under review, 634 teachers, head teachers, school supervisors and instructors took advantage of the Agency's regular in-service training programmes, including programmes culminating in two-year education diplomas for teachers with secondary-level qualifications, year-long courses to orient teachers in new curricula introduced by host Governments, general courses in teaching methodology and year-long courses to enhance skills in education administration. Regular in-service training programmes were developed by the UNRWA Institute of Education at headquarters (Amman) and were implemented by separate education development centres in each field.
63. The education programme, accounting for 48 per cent of the Agency's regular budget for 1995 and 62 per cent of its staff, remained UNRWA's single largest area of activity. In its five fields of operation, the Agency employed 12,796 education staff - excluding clerical staff, manual labourers and school attendants - in programmes devoted to basic schooling, teacher training and vocational and technical education. UNRWA's 644 schools were attended by 408,861 elementary, preparatory and secondary students, an increase of 10,056 over the preceding year. In addition to natural population growth in the Palestine refugee community, the unusually high increase reflected the return of families to Gaza with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and the consequent transfer of their children to UNRWA schools from non-Agency schools in their previous place of residence. The education programme utilized host Government curricula in Jordan, Lebanon, and the Syrian Arab Republic; in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordanian and Egyptian curricula were respectively utilized. In all fields except Gaza, nominal voluntary contributions continued to be collected and used to finance improvements to school grounds. The regular education programme offered specialized courses to meet the needs of slow learners and special remedial education programmes for pupils with learning disabilities. In cooperation with the Agency's relief and social services programme, efforts were made to integrate disabled students into the regular education programme.
64. Enrolment in UNRWA's two-year post-preparatory school trade courses and post-secondary school technical courses increased from 4,536 to 4,568. New courses in industrial electronics, machine maintenance, architectural draughting and secretarial and office management were introduced at the Agency's eight training centres. UNRWA training centres offered short-term courses of 12 to 40 weeks' duration to train workers as plumbers, electricians, construction workers, bricklayers, computer operators and executive secretaries. During the period under review, 185 trainees benefited from those courses, which were offered in all fields except the Syrian Arab Republic.
65. UNRWA awarded university scholarships to 863 Palestine refugee pupils, including 371 women, for study at 48 different universities in 11 countries in the region. Awarded on the basis of the final results of secondary school examinations, the one-year scholarships ranged in value from $250 to $2,500 and were renewable until the recipient reached the first university degree level. Nearly 70 per cent of the total amount granted in scholarships was funded by special contributions. Scholarship recipients pursued a wide range of specializations, including arts, dentistry, education, engineering, medicine and sciences.
66. During the period under review, UNRWA's arrangements with UNESCO for technical cooperation were modified, with UNESCO agreeing to replace international staff posts seconded to UNRWA with funding for certain senior area staff posts. UNESCO undertook the funding of three area posts, while the number of international staff seconded to UNRWA was reduced from 10 to 4.
67. The academic achievement of UNRWA pupils in the West Bank and Gaza, which showed the cumulative effects of the disruption of schools over the past seven years, remained a serious concern. Education services continued to suffer from the restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli authorities. The requirement that West Bank residents obtain permits to travel to Jerusalem or Gaza and that Gaza residents obtain permits to travel to Jerusalem or the West Bank effectively denied students and teachers access to schools and training centres outside their area of residence. Male students from the Gaza Strip experienced particular difficulty in attending UNRWA's Ramallah and Kalandia training centres, in the West Bank, and UNRWA staff residing in the West Bank and employed in the Jerusalem area were often prevented from reaching their place of work. The long-term impact of the cumulative disruption in students' education since the outbreak of the
in 1987 continued to be felt in students' academic performance. To help improve achievement levels, UNRWA continued to develop remedial plans based on diagnostic tests, curriculum enrichment materials and self-learning kits.
68. UNRWA's health programme in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was based on a strategic approach emphasizing preparation for an eventual handover of the Agency's health-care system to the Palestinian Authority. Accordingly, UNRWA focused its efforts on maintaining and upgrading its infrastructure at the primary level, coordinating and harmonizing its health policies and services with those of the Palestinian Authority and gradual redeployment of resources to Palestinian Authority hospitals. A joint committee was established to coordinate practical aspects of health policy and facilitate technical cooperation in areas such as immunization policies and services, the development of UNRWA's Gaza General Hospital, the Palestinian health insurance scheme, treatment of refugee patients in Palestinian Authority hospitals, school health services, and project planning and implementation. A joint technical advisory group was created to review issues relating to the development and future operation of the Gaza General Hospital, and a coordination mechanism was established between UNRWA's special environmental health programme and the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction. UNRWA staff served as members of the Palestinian Council of Health and various technical advisory bodies. The ultimate objective of such support and coordination activities was to make possible the handover of a cost-effective health-care system that would be integrated within the health-care system of the Palestinian Authority, as and when conditions were ripe for such a takeover.
69. With the transfer of the health-care system of the Israeli Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority, effective May 1994 in the Gaza Strip and November 1994 in the West Bank, UNRWA mobilized its resources to assist the Palestinian Authority as it developed its institutional capacity in the health sector. Technical assistance to the Palestinian Authority in the health sector took many forms, including procurement of equipment for its health programmes and assistance in upgrading its health facilities. Significant progress was made in the construction of Gaza General Hospital and other health facilities which would become part of the Palestinian health infrastructure. The Gaza College of Nursing was inaugurated in September 1994 and continued its training of public sector health professionals. UNRWA received two grants of $2 million each to construct a radiotherapy centre and a public health laboratory that would be operated by the Palestinian Authority; those projects were still in the planning stages at the end of the period under review.
70. The Agency's health-care programme continued to provide comprehensive primary care, including preventive and curative medical care, maternal and child health services, family-planning services and projects to improve environmental health, in addition to secondary care in the form of hospitalization and other referral and support services. UNRWA delivered health-care services through its network of 123 health centres or points which provided a full range of preventive, curative, support and community health services, including paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, cardiology and ophthalmology. Special care was available for the treatment of chest diseases and ear, nose and throat illnesses, and for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Mother and child health programmes and family-planning services were fully integrated in the activities of health centres. Seventy-six of the centres offered comprehensive dental care and 84 accommodated medical laboratories. Refugees living outside camps were served by the Agency's health points - smaller facilities offering a wide range of health-care services on a part-time basis. UNRWA also operated the 43-bed Qalqilia Hospital in the West Bank. In the period under review, some 6.5 million patient visits were handled by the Agency in all five fields of operation, with a relatively high average of 94 consultations per doctor per day and a continuing heavy workload for dental consultations and other support services. In the five fields of operation, in 1994, the health programme employed 3,296 professional and support staff, the majority of whom were locally recruited Palestinians.
71. Under the terms of an agreement with UNRWA, WHO continued to provide technical supervision of the Agency's health programme by seconding six staff, including the Agency's Director of Health, to UNRWA headquarters on a reimbursable loan basis. In view of the Agency's goal of handing over a sustainable health-care system at the appropriate time, it was decided to gradually convert the WHO-funded positions of division chief from international to area posts through attrition. In the spring of 1995, UNRWA participated in a national immunization campaign against poliomyelitis throughout its area of operations, conducted in the context of a WHO regional strategy that was implemented in coordination with UNICEF and local health authorities. A total of 200,000 refugee children under age 5 received two doses of trivalent oral polio vaccine at a one-month interval. The Agency's health programme completed the development of a special curriculum on prevention of HIV/AIDS for schools in coordination with WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) and undertook development of a youth-centred programme to prevent the start of tobacco use. Both programmes were designed to be implemented as multidisciplinary activities involving UNRWA's education, health, and relief and social services programmes.
72. Family health continued to be a top priority of UNRWA's health programme. The Agency implemented an expanded reproductive health and family-planning programme focusing on child health care, family planning and the continuity and quality of antenatal, natal and post-natal care. The programme was fully integrated in the Agency's primary health-care activities, reaching families through 117 of its 123 health centres and points. More than 205,000 children under three years of age, 73,000 pregnant women and 31,000 family-planning acceptors received health care at UNRWA mother and child health and family- planning clinics. Supplementary nutritional assistance was provided to 74,000 pregnant and nursing women and 121,000 children under the age of two; immunization and growth monitoring were provided to children under the age of three. The reorganization of the Health Department to accommodate the new Division of Family Health was completed. In-service training was provided to 400 medical and nursing staff Agency-wide to enhance skills relating to family health, including special courses on breast-feeding, insertion of intrauterine devices, maternal health strategy and maternal health record-keeping.
73. The expanded maternal health and family-planning programme in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under joint implementation since 1992 by UNRWA and UNFPA, was evaluated upon completion of implementation. The evaluation revealed that the projects had been effectively implemented and that there was an obvious need to expand reproductive health and family-planning services to the clinics run by the Palestinian health authorities and non-governmental organizations. UNRWA was preparing to participate in a tripartite mission planned for the summer of 1995 to assess the needs of the Palestinian health authorities and develop a strategic plan and operational framework for a sustainable women's health programme, including reproductive health and family planning.
74. Environmental health remained a high priority in the Agency's health programme. To ensure that acceptable environmental health standards were maintained in refugee communities, UNRWA provided a range of services, including sewage disposal, management of storm water run-off, provision of safe drinking water, collection and disposal of refuse, and control of insect and rodent infestation. The Agency focused its efforts on the Gaza Strip, where improvement in environmental health conditions was a key not only to reducing health risks but to future socio-economic development. By mid-1995, initial steps had been taken to define needs, identify priorities and elaborate strategies for bringing about the required improvements in camps in all five fields of operation.
75. Those efforts were consistent with UNRWA's comprehensive planning approach to environmental health, first employed in the Gaza Strip in 1992, which emphasized greater investment in the crucial early stages of project development and design to minimize problems in implementation and reduce overall costs. Feasibility studies and preliminary designs for the improvement of sewerage, drainage and solid-waste management were completed for 11 camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Progress in project development and implementation varied from one field of operation to another, based on availability of donor funding. Construction projects for internal sewerage systems were completed or in progress during the year in Beach camp in the Gaza Strip, in Nur Shams and Tulkarm camps in the West Bank, and in Nahr el-Bared, Burj el-Barajneh and El-Buss camps in Lebanon. In collaboration with the Syrian Government, UNRWA rehabilitated the water network in Neirab camp.
76. UNRWA continued to provide assistance towards hospitalization of the refugee population either at contracted non-governmental and private hospitals or through reimbursement of costs incurred by refugees at government or private hospitals. Expenditure on hospital services continued to represent one third of the total cash budget for medical care services, with the highest rates of expenditure in the West Bank and Lebanon fields, respectively. The relatively high share of expenditure on secondary and tertiary care services continued to cause great concern to the Agency because of the substantial funding shortfall in its regular budget and the ever-increasing cost of the service. UNRWA did its best to improve the quality of health care by strengthening its primary health-care facilities and seeking more economical options for provision of essential hospital care. However, it proved to be extremely difficult to implement that strategy without application of certain measures, including review of the hospital referral and admission policies, with priority given to emergency conditions, reduction of the number of bed-days utilized and in certain instances, establishment of waiting lists for chronic surgical conditions. A system of cost-sharing was introduced on a limited scale, under which UNRWA would continue to cover 75 per cent of the cost of treatment at contracted hospitals with refugees contributing the balance. The system was scheduled to be implemented beginning 1 September 1995. Negotiations were under way to effect the gradual redeployment of resources from non-governmental and private hospitals to Palestinian Authority hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to Palestine Red Crescent hospitals in Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.
Relief and social services
77. The number of Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA increased from 3.01 million on 30 June 1994 to 3.17 million on 30 June 1995, an increase of 5.52 per cent. The growth rate was higher than could be accounted for by natural population growth, indicating that refugee families were striving to register family members who had previously been unregistered, a phenomenon also noted in last year's report. Of the total registered refugees, 1.20 million (38 per cent) were 15 years of age or under; 1.70 million (54 per cent) were in the age group 16-59; and 273,000 (8 per cent) were 60 years of age or older.
78. Further progress was made in implementing the unified registration system, a project begun in 1993 to incorporate refugee registration records, socio-economic data on special hardship cases and the family records of Palestine refugees into an integrated set of computerized databases. The computerized registration system was installed in the Jordan field at the end of 1994 and in the West Bank and Gaza fields in mid-1995. The system had been installed in the Syrian Arab Republic at the end of 1993 and was scheduled to be installed in Lebanon in the second half of 1995. A management team was recruited to coordinate the operation from UNRWA's Amman headquarters, develop the databases and provide information on registered refugees and special hardship families. Implementation was proceeding slower than expected owing to lack of funding and increased demands on UNRWA's Information Systems Office in connection with the move of the Agency's Vienna headquarters to Gaza. A project proposal for the financing of the system was submitted to the Multilateral Working Group on Refugees in December 1994.
79. Special relief assistance was provided to refugee families unable to sustain themselves through UNRWA's special hardship programme, which granted direct relief assistance to families without an able-bodied male adult. Provision was again made for a 3.5 per cent budgeted increase in the special hardship programme, consistent with the rate of natural population growth. The number of special hardship cases Agency-wide rose from 177,205 on 1 July 1994, representing 5.9 per cent of the refugee population, to 181,437 on 30 June 1995, representing 5.7 per cent of the refugee population. The decline in the proportion of registered refugees eligible for special hardship assistance partly reflected tighter management controls introduced by UNRWA in early 1994. More important was the fact that many families facing extreme socio-economic difficulties were ineligible for admission to the programme: their problem was not the absence of an employable male adult but the lack of employment opportunities, especially in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Moreover, for the first time in several years there was marked growth in demand for welfare assistance from refugees in Jordan.
80. Special hardship assistance consisted principally of bi-monthly food rations (flour, sugar, rice, vegetable oil and similar staple goods) donated to UNRWA in kind, as well as increased subsidies for hospital care. Cash assistance was provided on an ad hoc basis to special hardship families facing extreme difficulty, with recipient families each receiving an average of $200 over the year. Special hardship cases were also eligible for shelter rehabilitation, poverty alleviation initiatives and preferential access to UNRWA training centres. The possibility of converting food aid to cash assistance which special hardship families could use to purchase foodstuffs in local markets was being explored with donors. Aside from giving families the flexibility to use resources according to their own most pressing needs, this would have the added benefit of supporting the local economies, thus helping to safeguard work opportunities.
81. UNRWA rehabilitated 4,260 shelters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 299 shelters in the three other fields as part of its multimillion dollar programme to upgrade refugee housing which failed to meet minimally acceptable standards. The bulk of shelter rehabilitation was funded under PIP, which, by mid-1995, had received $31.2 million for that purpose. In addition to improving the living conditions of thousands of special hardship and other impoverished families, the shelter rehabilitation programme sought to create employment in local construction sectors and to promote refugee self-help by soliciting volunteer labour from beneficiary families in return for provision of materials.
82. In Lebanon, the Agency's main concern was the rehousing of displaced refugees who were being evicted from properties where they had been illegally squatting. With the assistance of special contributions from donors and compensation monies paid by the Lebanese Central Fund for the Displaced, 118 families were rehoused in Ein el-Hilweh camp in August 1994. Discussions with the Lebanese Government continued, with the goal of agreeing on arrangements for the remaining displaced families.
83. In September 1994, UNRWA began coordinating actively with the Palestinian Authority's social affairs department on issues of mutual interest and concern. A joint technical working group was formed to study harmonization of direct relief assistance programmes and provide recommendations by July 1995. The Agency had also been coordinating with the Palestinian Authority's housing department on the question of housing in Gaza refugee camps, particularly with respect to UNRWA's large-scale shelter rehabilitation programme but also on such issues as land use and housing for returnees. At the request of the Palestinian Authority's department for local government, the Agency erected 32 prefabricated houses with donor funds at Aqabat Jabr camp to accommodate Palestinians released from Israeli prisons.
84. Under the Palestinian Women's Initiative Fund, four new projects were financed, providing for functional literacy classes in Lebanon, training in the maintenance and repair of sewing and knitting machines in Gaza, a community-run kindergarten at a women's programme centre in the West Bank, and a food production unit in a refugee camp in Jordan. A fund-raising campaign was launched in February 1995 for phase two of the fund, which sought to enhance the active role of Palestinian women by supporting projects aimed at self-reliance for women and women's institutions. Activities within UNRWA's community centres included promotion of legal literacy, civic education and early childhood development through women's programme centres; the linkage of community rehabilitation programmes with mainstream UNRWA services, especially the integration of disabled children into the regular school education system; and participation in such multidisciplinary campaigns as the Agency's HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. At the end of 1994, 278 disabled children were attending mainstream UNRWA schools in all five fields. UNRWA's growing expertise in social development issues gained recognition in the region, with the Agency's Palestinian staff being called upon to provide training and advice to governmental and non-governmental bodies on small enterprise development and community-based rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, and to participate in the development of national social action plans for children, youth and the disabled. Training courses conducted by UNRWA were also opened to staff of local non-governmental organizations and the Palestinian Authority's social affairs department.
85. UNRWA continued its sponsorship of refugee community centres, providing training, technical assistance and partial financial support to 71 women's programme centres and 29 community rehabilitation centres in the five fields of operation, as well as to 27 youth activity centres in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Agency's emphasis on promoting self-reliance in its social services programme was formalized in November 1994 with the adoption of a plan for full community management of those organizations within five years. The plan envisaged that all of those facilities would become entirely community-run, financially and technically sustainable and integrated into local networks of organizations serving essentially the same objectives. UNRWA would continue to provide technical and financial support for the duration of its mandate. The overall goal was to secure the viability of UNRWA's legacy to the Palestinian people in the social services sector. In support of the plan, the Agency conducted a situation analysis in each field in early 1995 and began a training programme in institution-building for UNRWA staff facilitators and locally elected committees. Each UNRWA-assisted programme was being helped to establish its own income-generating enterprise as a means to provide employment for targeted groups of women, youth and persons with disabilities and to contribute towards the recurrent costs of the centres' other activities. The locally recruited Palestinian staff were given extensive training and technical assistance in small and micro-business development and alternative strategies for poverty alleviation, creating a pool of qualified trainers and resource persons in all five fields. In June 1995, the capacity of the West Bank and Gaza Strip fields to support local community development and non-governmental institution-building was strengthened with the decision to create a separate social services division in each field headed by a senior Palestinian programme manager.
86. Since its founding, UNRWA had introduced a number of initiatives aimed at creating employment, generating income and supporting business enterprises among the Palestine refugee community. The Agency attached increasing importance to those initiatives in recent years as socio-economic conditions for Palestine refugees in the area of operations worsened and unemployment climbed steeply. As a result of the Gulf War, remittances by expatriate workers to their families in the area of operations dwindled, eroding household purchasing power and causing local economies to stagnate. Simultaneously, growing domestic pressure on regional governments led to a significant reduction of employment opportunities for refugees, particularly in Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestine refugee families experienced increasingly high unemployment rates and a marked decline in living standards.
87. UNRWA's revolving loan fund for small businesses was created with the aim of creating employment opportunities for Palestine refugees by promoting the development of small-scale enterprises. The programme aimed to support entrepreneurs in the formal and informal sectors of the economy producing goods for sale locally and abroad. Unable to gain access to formal banking credit, most entrepreneurs had raised most of their investment capital from individual and family savings. UNRWA sought to meet the need for credit by making finance capital available at reasonable interest rates to be used to expand existing enterprises or establish new ones. Since its establishment in 1991, the revolving loan fund had issued loans to 853 enterprises and had acquired a total capital base of $7.2 million. In many cases those enterprises were owned and managed by skilled labourers who had previously been unemployed.
88. The revolving loan fund continued to expand during the period under review. UNRWA provided loans averaging $15,000 to 169 businesses, creating or saving some 460 jobs. Among the enterprises receiving loans were a brick-making plant, refrigerator manufacturer, bakery, aluminium-products workshop, bee-keeping enterprise and hairdressing salon. Individual loans were disbursed out of revolving loan funds, with separate contributions from donors for each field with the exception of the Syrian Arab Republic, which did not have an income-generation programme. Loans were administered through the branches of local banks, and recipients were also required to contribute a certain percentage of the loan amount to the enterprise. The leading field-based income-generation programme was in Gaza, which utilized more capital than the other three fields combined. With a capital base of over $4 million and an overall loan recovery rate of 98 per cent, the programme ranked as the largest of its kind in the Gaza Strip and the most successful in the area.
89. UNRWA also operated a solidarity-group lending programme centred in the Gaza Strip to make credit available to women working in micro-enterprises and as street vendors in the informal sector of the economy. As formal employment opportunities in Israel and the Gaza Strip diminished in recent years, the informal sector of the Gaza Strip - represented by the increasing number of itinerant peddlers, open-air markets, unlicensed taxis and donkey-cart drivers - grew accordingly. A significant proportion of that sector was made up of women compelled to eke out an existence on the margins of the economy in order to support their families.
90. The programme offered loans averaging $400 to individual women for the expansion of income-generating activities. Participants were organized into solidarity groups of 4 to 10 members; as long as every member of the group was current in their repayments, all members were eligible for additional loans. Beneficiaries worked mainly as sellers of clothing, foodstuffs, livestock, kitchenware, toiletries and other goods, supporting an average of eight dependants each. As the women built up their creditworthiness and acquired more capital, some were able to graduate from informal street-market enterprises and become actual shopkeepers. The programme, which was begun in 1994, had provided a total of 406 loans to women organized into 74 solidarity groups by mid-1995.
91. UNRWA's poverty alleviation programme, established in 1993, sought to promote sustainable income-generating activities among special hardship cases of working age. In contrast to the revolving loan fund, which aimed to generate employment opportunities within the refugee community at large, the ultimate goal of the poverty alleviation programme was to raise the income of the neediest families to a level that would allow them to be removed from the special hardship rolls. The programme utilized a diverse array of strategies, ranging from skills-training programmes and technical assistance for starting enterprises to placement in apprenticeships and access to credit. Low-interest loans averaging $3,000 were provided on an individual, family or group-guaranteed basis for the establishment of self-support projects. To assist loan applicants, courses on how to start a business were offered in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan fields. Special attention was devoted to the needs of women income-earners and to the development of sustainable income-generation enterprises to support affiliated community organizations.
Extraordinary measures for Lebanon and the
92. The fund for extraordinary measures for Lebanon and the occupied territory (EMLOT) was created in 1990 to provide emergency assistance to Palestine refugees in areas of special crisis. The fund was established through a merger of the Lebanon Emergency Fund, established in 1982, and a similar fund for the occupied territory, established during the
. UNRWA's financial shortfalls since 1993, combined with improvements in the political and security situation in Lebanon and the occupied territory, have sharply diminished the extent of activities funded under EMLOT. None the less, the impact of Israeli security measures on refugee communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the poor socio-economic circumstances of refugees in Lebanon continued to require emergency responses from the Agency.
93. The emergency medical care programme established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of the extraordinary measures taken during the
was subject to thorough assessment and review in light of the recent developments in those two fields and the declining need for emergency medical services. Measures to rationalize the programme included redeployment of ambulances, closing of night duty clinics in the Gaza Strip and amalgamation of emergency medical services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip into UNRWA's regular health programme. The Agency decided to maintain its physiotherapy clinics to meet the continuing need for physical rehabilitation of victims of violence and other physical impairments.
94. The Israeli authorities continued to impose prolonged curfews in the aftermath of the Hebron massacre of February 1994, and in early 1995 effectively closed off the Gaza Strip from Israel for an indefinite period. The inability of Palestinian workers to go to Israel and the disruption of local economic activity produced by those measures caused serious hardship to many families. Consequently, in July 1994 UNRWA found it necessary to make a food distribution consisting of 50 kilograms of flour each to 75,000 families in the West Bank and 95,000 families in the Gaza Strip. In March 1995, on the occasion of Eid el-Fitr, a second distribution of 50 kilograms of flour was made in areas of greatest socio-economic distress, reaching 26,000 families in the West Bank and 14,000 families in the Gaza Strip. Other in-kind assistance valued at $25,000 was provided to needy families in the Gaza Strip through non-governmental organizations. In Lebanon, $88,000 worth of basic commodities and $58,000 in cash assistance were given to refugee families with emergency needs.
95. The Refugee Affairs Officer programme, funded under EMLOT, continued to operate throughout the West Bank, apart from the Jericho Area. The size of the programme was gradually reduced, during the year under review, from 12 officers to 4, in response to the decline in widespread scenes of confrontation in the West Bank which had characterized recent years. The programme had been discontinued in the Gaza Strip following implementation of the Cairo Agreement of May 1994. Operations were resumed in Hebron following the departure in July 1994 of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron.
Peace Implementation Programme
96. The Agency's Peace Implementation Programme (PIP) was introduced in October 1993 following the signing of the Declaration of Principles as a means of demonstrating to the refugee community throughout the region the tangible benefits of the peace process. In formulating the first phase of the programme (PIP I), special emphasis was placed on projects to develop infrastructure, improve living conditions and create jobs in refugee communities to provide benefits over both the short and long terms. Projects were to be implemented within all three of UNRWA's main programme areas - education, health, and relief and social services. The Agency stressed that funds acquired through PIP be adequately distributed in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic so as to convey the benefits of peace to refugees in those fields. PIP's second phase (PIP II) shared the same basic goals as its predecessor, and its projects were designed to be implemented within 24 months of receipt of funds.
97. PIP I was replaced in September 1994 by PIP II. At that time, UNRWA had received $93.9 million in pledges and contributions for PIP I, of which $51.6 million was earmarked for projects in the Gaza Strip, $31.9 million in the West Bank and the remaining $10.4 million in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. With the funding received under PIP I, UNRWA had, as at 30 June 1995, completed rehabilitation of 4,521 shelters; construction of 94 boundary walls around Agency installations, 32 playgrounds, 21 toilet blocks and 11 classrooms and specialized rooms; comprehensive maintenance on 28 schools, the Gaza College of Nursing and 12 other Agency installations; painting of 67 schools and one health centre; and replacement of glass at 100 schools. PIP I funds also allowed UNRWA to complete six environmental-health feasibility studies, grant increased loans to small-scale enterprises under the income-generation programme, offer several training courses for staff, provide temporary housing for released prisoners in Jericho, conduct an agricultural pilot project and upgrade or supply equipment for a number of Agency installations, among other projects. Additional projects which had received funding under PIP I included construction of 31 schools, 59 classrooms and specialized rooms, 10 health centres or points, 9 women's programme centres and the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences; rehabilitation of 1,129 shelters; construction of 1,309 garbage depository sites and manufacture of 900 refuse containers; comprehensive maintenance on 7 schools and 2 health centres; implementation of a graduate training programme in UNRWA offices; and the expansion of environmental health facilities in Beach camp. The majority of those projects were under way by mid-1995.
98. PIP II consisted of $311 million worth of projects in mid-1995, including $78 million in unfunded projects transferred from PIP I. PIP II was developed in conjunction with the relevant departments of the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR), with the goal of complementing projects undertaken directly by the Palestinian Authority. In formulating PIP II projects, UNRWA devoted particular effort to minimizing recurrent costs. Special emphasis was placed on assisting the Palestinian Authority in addressing the needs of returnees, particularly the requirement for additional schools and classrooms for returnee children. Another priority was to build on the Agency's success in the environmental health sector. At the request of and in conjunction with local municipalities, UNRWA developed comprehensive project proposals for internal sewerage and storm-water drainage systems, treatment plants and pumping stations for 11 camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with a total value of over $124 million. By 30 June 1995, UNRWA had received $29.8 million in funds and pledges for PIP II, of which $24.8 million was for the Gaza Strip, $1 million for the West Bank and $4 million for the Agency's other three fields of operation. The amount pledged or received for the Gaza Strip included $14.5 million for environmental health projects and $8.7 million for shelter rehabilitation and construction of schools and classrooms. Two additional large contributions for environmental health projects were expected in the near future.
III. FINANCIAL MATTERS
99. During the period under review, UNRWA received contributions and incurred expenditure under the following main headings:
(a) Regular programme;
(b) Extraordinary measures for Lebanon and the occupied territory (EMLOT);
(c) Peace Implementation Programme (PIP);
(d) Expanded programme of assistance (EPA), to be subsumed into PIP as soon as EPA projects were completed;
(e) Gaza General Hospital project.
100. The regular programme received contributions and was budgeted and accounted for under the following subsections:
(a) General Fund;
(b) Funded ongoing activities;
(c) Capital and special projects.
101. The budget for the General Fund and funded ongoing activities covered all costs incurred in the implementation of the Agency's regular programmes - namely, its education, health, and relief and social services programmes. It also included those functions required to support the regular programmes, such as administration, management, budget, finance, supply and transport, and technical and information services.
102. EMLOT was established in 1990 to meet emergency needs in Lebanon and the occupied territory. Activities funded under EMLOT had been scaled down in recent years as a result of financial shortfalls and the diminishing need for the services provided under EMLOT arising from improvements in the political and security situation in the two areas. Lack of contributions to the fund and the existence of recurrent expenditures associated with earlier EMLOT activities produced net deficits in the EMLOT account which were covered out of UNRWA's regular budget. For that reason, EMLOT may be considered a de facto extension of the General Fund.
103. Funded ongoing activities consisted of activities which formed an intrinsic part of the Agency's three regular programmes, yet which were funded separately by donors. Those activities had originally been subsumed into the General Fund but were reclassified when donors agreed to fund them in their entirety. In the absence of special donor funding, their costs would automatically revert to the General Fund. Funded ongoing activities included the Ramallah men's and women's training centres and expansion of the Agency's family-planning programme.
104. Capital projects represented investments required to upgrade and expand the facilities employed in the Agency's regular programmes - namely, schools, health clinics and various social services centres - for which earmarked funding had been obtained. Capital projects were only implemented if special contributions were made available. Similarly, special projects consisted of ongoing activities related to the Agency's regular programmes which donors had agreed to fund separately on a recurrent basis. In that sense, special projects resembled funded ongoing activities but with the difference that they did not originate in the General Fund and hence were not considered part of UNRWA's regular programmes. If earmarked funding for a special project were to cease, the Agency would not absorb its costs into the General Fund and would have to discontinue the project. As at 30 June 1995, the value of ongoing projects funded under capital and special projects was $16.4 million.
105. The expanded programme of assistance (EPA) was established in 1988 to improve living conditions in refugee camps and upgrade UNRWA's infrastructure throughout its area of operations, with special emphasis on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. With the establishment of PIP in October 1993, EPA became redundant and UNRWA began to phase it out as projects were completed. Projects funded under EPA were generally non-recurrent in nature, although some of the larger capital projects, worth a total of $48 million, were still being implemented in mid-1995.
106. The Gaza General Hospital project, initiated in 1990 to alleviate the serious shortage of hospital beds and adequate medical services in the Gaza Strip, was well under way by mid-1995. Activities funded included construction, equipment and design, as well as administrative and staff costs associated with the project. Funding for the construction phase had been secured, and efforts were ongoing to raise funds for equipment and start-up costs of the hospital, which was expected to be completed in early 1996.
Biennial budget for 1996-1997 and biennial expenditure
107. UNRWA's budget was prepared on a biennial basis although the Agency continued to fund its operations on an annual basis. The results of the mid-biennial closure of accounts were reflected in the Agency's current financial situation, as listed below. At the end of June 1995, UNRWA was in the midst of preparing its 1996-1997 biennial budget. Consistent with past practice, the biennial budget would be reviewed by UNRWA's Advisory Commission and its administrative and support cost aspects submitted to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). The biennial budget was scheduled to be submitted to the General Assembly at its fiftieth session as an addendum to the present report (A/50/13/Add.1).
108. UNRWA modified the format of its budget presentation in mid-1995 to reflect more clearly and simply the distinction between its project and recurrent costs. That format was first used in the preparation of the Agency's 1996-1997 biennial budget.
Income and sources of funding
109. Voluntary contributions remained the principal means of financing UNRWA's operations, accounting for 97 per cent of the Agency's funding. The remaining 3 per cent represented the core of the Agency's international staff costs - 92 international posts during the period under review - which were funded by the United Nations. Most contributions were received in cash, although 12.5 per cent of UNRWA's total funding was received in kind, usually in the form of food for distribution to needy refugees.
Current financial situation
110. UNRWA ended the 1992-1993 biennium with an adjusted deficit of $17.1 million in relation to its regular programme, reducing the Agency's working capital to $22.6 million. In response to a worsening financial situation in 1993, the Agency introduced $17 million in austerity measures - including a general salary freeze and cuts in the budgets for additional teacher posts, hospitalization, medical supplies, duty travel and temporary labour - which were rolled over into the 1994-1995 biennium. Despite the limited savings produced by those measures and stringent controls over expenditure, a further deficit of $6 million was realized in 1994, after adjustments were made for income received in 1994 which related to 1993. UNRWA's working capital at the end of 1994 therefore stood at $16.6 million.
111. The 1994 deficit, in millions of United States dollars, was composed as follows:
Funds received under PIP, EPA, and capital and special projects could not be used to offset the deficit in recurrent costs as those funds were earmarked for specific projects. The Agency's success in attracting funding for PIP in recent years coincided with shortfalls in the funds made available for its regular budget.
112. There were two main reasons for UNRWA's deficit. First, some donors were unable to raise their contributions commensurate with the Agency's annual budget increase of 5 per cent, which was the minimum increase necessary to accommodate natural population growth in the refugee community and rising costs in all fields as a result of inflation. Secondly, unexpected emergency needs in the area of operations required UNRWA to utilize additional funds. At the end of June 1995, a budget deficit of $16 million was projected for 1995. If realized, that deficit would eliminate UNRWA's already meagre working capital by the end of the 1994-1995 biennium unless additional contributions were received. The anticipated funding shortfall posed a serious threat to the Agency's ability to maintain the existing level of services to the Palestine refugee population.
113. In response to changing political circumstances in which UNRWA was functioning and the prospect of an eventual handover of its services, a five-year financial and policy planning framework was adopted to establish the Agency's minimum financial requirements for the period 1995-1999. The framework provided for a 5 per cent annual increase in the Agency's regular budget to accommodate natural growth in the refugee population and unavoidable cost increases due to inflation. In addition, a certain sum was to be set aside each year towards payment of an estimated $127 million in termination indemnities accruing to area staff upon dissolution of UNRWA. Project funding was not covered by the framework. The five-year planning horizon was endorsed by UNRWA's major donor and host Governments at an informal meeting held at Amman in March 1995, and the 1996-1997 biennial budget was prepared in accordance with those basic assumptions.
114. The move of UNRWA's Vienna headquarters to its area of operations - primarily the Gaza Strip with some units in Amman - was budgeted at $13.5 million. In approving the relocation of UNRWA headquarters, the Agency's major donors stipulated that the move should not be financed out of UNRWA's regular budget. Consequently, UNRWA took steps during the period under review to raise the required funds directly from donors.
IV. LEGAL MATTERS
115. There was a continuing reduction in the number of staff members who were arrested and detained by the Israeli authorities during the reporting period; a total of 10 were detained in the West Bank, compared with 15 in the West Bank in the preceding year. Two remained in detention at 30 June 1995. Following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, 58 staff members in the Gaza Strip were arrested and detained by the Palestinian Police Force; by the end of June 1995, 9 were still in detention. Four staff members were detained in Jordan, two in the Syrian Arab Republic and one in Lebanon; of those, only one staff member in Jordan remained in detention by the end of June 1995. A total of 75 staff members were detained throughout the area of operations during the period under review; of those, 61 were released without charge or trial, 2 were sentenced and 12 remained in detention at the end of June 1995.
116. As in previous years, while UNRWA continued to make frequent approaches to the relevant authorities in all its areas of operation, it was not provided with adequate and timely information as to the reasons for the arrest and detention of its staff members. In the absence of sufficient information, the Agency was unable to ascertain whether the staff member's official functions were involved, bearing in mind the rights and duties flowing from the Charter of the United Nations, the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the relevant staff regulations and rules of UNRWA.
117. UNRWA had access to one staff member from the West Bank and two from the Gaza Strip detained by the Israeli authorities in prisons and detention centres in Israel. In comparison with previous years, UNRWA experienced noticeably more difficulty in obtaining access to staff detained by the Israeli authorities, despite strenuous efforts to do so. The Agency had so far obtained access to one staff member detained by the Palestinian Authority, although those detentions tended to be for relatively short periods. The treatment and state of health of staff members in detention continued to be of particular concern to UNRWA; after their release by the Israeli authorities staff members complained of having been subjected to various forms of physical and psychological mistreatment. Despite continued approaches to the relevant Governments, the Agency remained unable to visit staff detained in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.
118. Two staff members were killed during the period under review, compared to four during the previous year. On 18 November 1994, during disturbances in Gaza town, an UNRWA school attendant visiting a hospital there was hit by a stray bullet and died instantly. On 22 June 1995, an UNRWA sanitation labourer was shot dead by masked gunmen in Beach camp in the Gaza Strip.
119. Following the entry into effect of the provisions of the Cairo Agreement of May 1994, UNRWA continued to note a decrease in instances of mistreatment of staff members in the occupied territory by members of the Israeli security forces. Twelve such cases in the West Bank were reported and none in the Gaza Strip.
120. During the period under review, the Israeli authorities instituted progressively stricter measures with regard to exit permits and checkpoint controls, including searches, on entry to and exit from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. As a result, the movement of UNRWA staff and vehicles into and out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was considerably impeded and sometimes prevented. On a number of occasions, following incidents inside Israel, permits were cancelled generally and their replacement resulted in substantial delays in the running of the Agency's operations. The sealing of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from Israel during Israeli holidays also resulted in substantial delays. UNRWA had at times to use international staff members as drivers, in order to overcome the difficulties.
121. Difficulties were exacerbated during the period under review. UNRWA staff who held West Bank and East Jerusalem identity cards were prevented from entering the Gaza Strip without special permits, which at times were obtained by staff members only after lengthy delays. Israeli military personnel repeatedly insisted on subjecting UNRWA vehicles leaving the Gaza Strip, including vehicles carrying senior Agency officials, to various forms of search, including partial dismantling and the use of inspection pits, on occasion causing damage to UNRWA vehicles. Those searches extended to inspection of the Agency's diplomatic pouch. The personal belongings of staff members, including those of international staff members, were on occasion also searched. The intermittent closure of certain roads within the Gaza Strip by the Israeli authorities also caused practical difficulties in the movement of staff and vehicles and the delivery of UNRWA services. There continued to be lengthy delays in the clearance of local staff for official travel through Israel as well as between the West Bank and Jordan via the Allenby Bridge.
Agency services and premises
122. The Agency provided its services in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the altered circumstances created by the entry into force of the provisions of the Cairo Agreement, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the redeployment of Israeli military forces from large areas of the Gaza Strip and from the Jericho Area. Notwithstanding sporadic incidents of some intensity, there was an absence of the widespread civil disorder and the high levels of civilian fatalities and injuries which had characterized recent years, and UNRWA continued its particular efforts to contribute towards the development of socio-economic stability in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
123. Nevertheless, to the extent that the Israeli authorities remained in occupation and retained powers and responsibilities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip areas, UNRWA continued its efforts to safeguard the legal and human rights of the population and to provide appropriate humanitarian assistance where possible. The Agency's Refugee Affairs Officer programme, which had already been discontinued in the Gaza Strip, was reduced in the West Bank in view of the substantial decrease in the number of casualties during the period under review. UNRWA continued to provide legal advice and a measure of financial assistance to needy refugees seeking legal redress, and it contributed to various initiatives for the generation of legal infrastructure in the area, including assisting in the establishment of a law centre at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.
124. In comparison to the previous year, there was a marked reduction in the number of incursions into UNRWA installations by members of the Israeli security forces. In the West Bank, the number fell from 63 to 11 incursions, while in the Gaza Strip, as a consequence of the large-scale redeployment of Israeli military forces, there were no incursions, compared with 113 reported the previous year. On those few occasions when members of the Palestinian Police Force entered UNRWA installations in the Gaza Strip without authorization, Agency representations were fully accepted by the Palestinian Authority.
125. Incidents of the demolition and sealing of dwellings for punitive reasons in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip decreased considerably, continuing a trend reported the previous year. No shelters in refugee camps in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip were demolished or sealed during the year. Outside refugee camps, in the Gaza Strip there were no punitive demolitions or sealings, while in the West Bank five dwellings were destroyed for punitive reasons and none sealed. A substantial number of dwellings outside camps were, however, demolished on the grounds that proper building permits had not been obtained: in the West Bank, the Israeli authorities demolished 78 such constructions, in comparison with 28 during the previous year; in the Gaza Strip, a number of constructions were demolished by the Israeli authorities in the areas where they remained in occupation, and a number were also demolished by the Palestinian Authority on the basis of lack of building permits.
126. UNRWA supplies imported through ports in Israel and destined for the Gaza Strip, including vehicles for official and private use by staff members and the personal belongings of staff members, were on occasion subjected to lengthy delays by the Israeli authorities before being cleared through Israeli customs. Customs clearance was delayed, occasionally for months, for necessary medical supplies. By the end of June 1995, however, no delays were recorded, as UNRWA, in coordination with the relevant Israeli and Palestinian authorities, took steps to modify its import procedures in the light of the new conditions following implementation of the Cairo Agreement. There were delays in importation of supplies for UNRWA operations, particularly for construction projects, as a result of the restrictions on traffic imposed by the Israeli authorities into and out of the Gaza Strip. Further to the decision of the Secretary-General to transfer the Vienna headquarters of UNRWA to the Gaza Strip, which was welcomed by the General Assembly in its resolution
of 9 December 1994, the Agency entered into negotiations with the Palestinian and Israeli authorities, in coordination with the United Nations Secretariat, with a view to the conclusion of an appropriate headquarters agreement, in order to provide for the facilities which would enable UNRWA's headquarters to manage and operate its programmes and services effectively in all its fields of operation.
127. As part of the cooperation and assistance which UNRWA provided to the Palestinian Authority, the Agency was designated by the Secretary-General, at the request of the General Assembly, most recently by its resolution
of 13 April 1995, to disburse voluntary contributions given by donors for salaries and other start-up costs of the Palestinian Police Force; during the period under review, UNRWA disbursed those contributions accordingly. It provided additional assistance to the Palestinian Police Force, particularly in the Jericho area where, after coordination with the relevant governmental authorities, UNRWA placed certain land and vacant Agency buildings at the disposal of the Palestinian Authority.
128. As had been agreed during the previous year with regard to the costs of warehousing, transport and labour for offloading and handling of UNRWA supplies from ports in Israel, the Israeli Government continued to bear the costs only for supplies destined for the West Bank. The Agency advanced funds to cover the costs for goods destined for the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority, it having been agreed by an exchange of letters in June 1994 between UNRWA and the PLO that such costs would be borne by the Palestinian authorities. With regard to the Gaza Strip, during the period under review the Israeli authorities reimbursed UNRWA for payments made against value-added tax until May 1994, after which time those responsibilities were assumed by the Palestinian Authority; a small amount remained in dispute
the Israeli authorities. As for purchases made after that date, the Agency submitted claims for reimbursement to the Palestinian Authority for purchases made in the Gaza Strip, and from the Israeli authorities for purchases made in Israel. With regard to purchases made in the West Bank, as from 1 December 1994 UNRWA claimed reimbursement from the Palestinian Authority.
Claims against Governments
129. UNRWA regretted that no progress was made with regard to its various claims against Governments.
130. During the period under review, UNRWA's 202 schools in Jordan served a student population of 149,932 in the elementary (six years of schooling) and preparatory (four years) cycles, a decrease of 1,675 pupils from the preceding year. The decrease, which ran counter to demographic trends, and to an influx of pupils from the Syrian Arab Republic, resulted from the transfer of refugee pupils to new Government schools opened in or near refugee camps at the beginning of the academic year. Those schools offered smaller class sizes, superior facilities and a five-day school week. By contrast, UNRWA schools in Jordan operated on a six-day week and suffered from severe overcrowding, with a 93 per cent of the schools running on a double-shift basis, which effectively deprived pupils of extracurricular activities. Some 24 per cent of UNRWA schools were still utilizing unsatisfactory rented premises, lacking adequate classroom space and auxiliary facilities such a laboratories, libraries and playgrounds.
131. The increased provision by the Jordanian Government of quality education services to refugees was a welcome development which none the less underlined the urgent need for improvements in UNRWA's own education infrastructure. Efforts to replace dilapidated prefabricated premises with standard UNRWA school buildings proceeded with the construction of a 20-classroom girls' school in Baqa'a camp and work in progress on six other schools, which were the last to be so replaced in Jordan. Among the schools under construction was a building containing 31 classrooms and other specialized and administrative space to replace three rented school buildings at Taybeh. One specialized room was also built and four were under construction by mid-1995. To meet the computer science requirement in the curriculum for the fourth preparatory grade, all new schools were being provided with fully equipped computer laboratories, and efforts were under way to provide similar facilities to other preparatory schools. Special classes for slow learners and children with learning difficulties were established in two schools at Marka and Souf camps, which also served pupils from neighbouring schools. Some 600 disabled children (including 12 deaf children), children with learning difficulties and slow learners were integrated into the regular education programme after receiving the necessary remedial care.
132. The Educational Sciences Faculty (ESF) provided in-service training to 365 UNRWA teachers to upgrade their qualifications to the first university degree level, as well as pre-service teacher training to 157 students in the first and second years. The ESF had been established at the Amman Training Centre in September 1993 in response to a Jordanian Government requirement that teachers in the basic education cycle should possess four-year university diplomas. A total of 113 education staff took advantage of the Agency's in-service training courses for teachers, head teachers, school supervisors and instructors. Organized by the Institute of Education at UNRWA headquarters (Amman) and implemented by the education development centre in Jordan, the courses aimed to upgrade staff members' qualifications, adapt to curricular changes, update teaching methodologies and enhance skills in education administration.
133. The Amman and Wadi Seer training centres offered training places to 1,224 students in trades and semi-professional training courses. Semi-professional courses at the Amman Training Centre prepared men and women at the post-secondary level for jobs as assistant pharmacists, assistant laboratory technicians and business administrators. Additional courses were offered in banking and financial management, medical record-keeping and secretarial skills, as well as a hairdressing course for women preparatory-school graduates. The Wadi Seer Training Centre offered semi-professional courses in architectural and civil engineering, land surveying and mechanical draughting, in addition to vocational training in the mechanical, electrical and building trades. The industrial electronics course introduced in September 1993 had a new intake and was awarded special accreditation by the Jordanian Ministry of Higher Education. Agency trainees maintained high levels of achievement in the annual comprehensive examinations for community colleges administered by the Ministry of Higher Education. Students at the Wadi Seer and Amman training centres attained pass rates of 94.5 per cent and 91.49 per cent, respectively, in the mid-1994 examinations, compared to a national average of 61 per cent in the specializations offered at the two centres.
134. Scholarships for study at Jordanian universities were awarded to 231 Palestine refugee students, including 89 women, on the basis of performance on the secondary school (
135. UNRWA provided health services to approximately 1.3 million refugees in Jordan through a network of 22 health centres providing comprehensive medical care, including family-planning services and mother and child care. Of those centres, 22 accommodated laboratories, 20 provided dental care, 17 offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and 14 provided specialist services for ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynaecology and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. The increase in demand created by socio-economic hardship among the Palestine refugee population in Jordan continued to tax UNRWA's health care programme. In spite of the additional human resources recruited to offset the heavy workload, the daily average number of medical consultations per doctor was 105, the highest Agency-wide and well above the Agency average of 94. UNRWA continued to operate a reimbursement scheme to partially cover the cost to refugees of hospital services in Jordanian Government and private hospitals. Owing to the accessibility of public hospital services to refugees, Jordan remained the only field in which the Agency did not contract directly with local hospitals. Expenditure by UNRWA on medical care services in Jordan remained the lowest of the Agency's five fields of operation.
136. UNRWA continued to replace or expand unsatisfactory health facilities commensurate with the level of contributions received. A specialist clinic in Irbid camp providing gynaecology and obstetrics, cardiology and ophthalmology services was completed in December 1994; a new dental clinic was established in Awajan Health Centre, and a mother and child health centre at Zarqa was scheduled for completion in October 1995.
137. The Jordan Water Authority completed the replacement of the water distribution network at Irbid camp. Funds were secured under PIP to procure additional refuse collection vehicles to serve camps. Under its self-help programme for environmental health, UNRWA cooperated with the Department of Palestinian Affairs and local camp committees by contributing building materials for volunteer public works projects. A total of 20,000 square metres of pathways were paved and 500 metres of surface drains were constructed in seven refugee camps under that programme, with UNRWA contributing the cost of building materials.
Relief and social services
138. The Palestine refugee population in Jordan increased by 7.9 per cent, from 1.19 million as at 30 June 1994 to 1.29 million as at 30 June 1995. The most important reason for the increase, which substantially exceeded normal population growth, was the demand by refugees for their UNRWA records to be updated. While the rate of that demand had slowed from the previous year, the Agency recorded an 11.1 per cent growth in the number of registered refugee families, as refugees increasingly registered nuclear family units separately from extended family groups. Demand for special hardship assistance among eligible refugees increased for the first time in several years. The number of persons enrolled in the programme rose by 8.9 per cent, from 30,365 to 33,066, compared with an Agency-wide increase of 2.39 per cent. Special hardship cases represented only 2.57 per cent of the total registered refugee population in Jordan, compared to the Agency-wide average of 5.72 per cent. Government statistics put the official rate of unemployment in Jordan at 18 per cent at the end of 1994, with 14.5 per cent of all families in the country living below the official poverty line and 4.5 per cent believed to be in absolute poverty. Many of the special hardship families were living in housing which did not meet minimally acceptable conditions. For the first time, the Jordan field received a special contribution for the shelter rehabilitation programme, under which 78 shelters had been rehabilitated by 30 June 1995, in addition to the 72 shelters rehabilitated with funds allocated out of the General Fund.
139. During the year, 22 special hardship families participated in the poverty alleviation programme to promote micro-enterprise, 17 of them achieving a sufficient sustainable income to be removed from the special hardship rolls. In early 1995, a group of 12 women from the Amman New Camp women's programme centre underwent training and other preparations for a group-guaranteed lending scheme with specially contributed funding and technical support. Under the loan programme, a special contribution under PIP made possible the disbursement of new credit to 23 refugee entrepreneurs. Regular training sessions were conducted for loan applicants on how to start a business, resulting in stronger applications to the programme. The number of income-generating enterprises associated with the community rehabilitation centres for disabled persons also increased from three to five, with a tissue-packaging workshop at Souf and the construction of 10 shops for lease in Baqa'a. Those projects served to subsidize the recurrent costs of the rehabilitation programme and to demonstrate to the community that persons with disabilities could contribute effectively to viable business concerns. A training course in food preservation was conducted to assist women wishing to start their own food production enterprises.
140. In the women's programme centres, the legal literacy programme for women was given further impetus with a series of 10 courses attended by 800 women. The Legal Advisory Bureau in Amman New Camp, the first of its kind in Jordan, opened six days weekly with two volunteer women lawyers on hand to provide advice to women and their families. There was a noticeable shift in the interests of participating women from personal and family law to laws and regulations relating to employment and the licensing and management of businesses. A new women's programme centre was opened in Sukhneh and the nursery at Talbieh camp was moved to larger, newly renovated premises where children of kindergarten age could be accommodated. Both facilities were completely managed by local women's committees.
141. Activities within UNRWA's community-based disability programmes were characterized by increasing cooperation among community programmes in different sectors. The women's programme centre at Amman New Camp inaugurated a class for children with hearing difficulties. The pilot project to integrate hearing-impaired children into mainstream schooling continued in Baqa'a and was extended to Husn, Souf and Waqqas. A new community rehabilitation centre was opened in Marka, and at the Souf centre a special contribution made possible the construction of new units for physiotherapy and occupational therapy, as well as an income-generation programme. The six community rehabilitation committees in Jordan formed a joint coordination committee which met with UNRWA staff and representatives of non-governmental organizations to plan joint activities and share experience and resources. The committees also forged links with other community-based rehabilitation programmes in the country and participated in several workshops and meetings aimed at developing a national policy and training resources. The Palestinian Disability Programme Officer from the Jordan field was granted a fellowship for post-graduate study in social development and planning management in the United Kingdom in the 1994/95 academic year.
142. During the period under review, the income-generation programme's revolving loan fund for small businesses approved nearly $300,000 in loans to 41 businesses, creating or saving 122 jobs. An intensive pre-loan workshop designed to train loan applicants in the technical and administrative aspects of small enterprise management was introduced in February 1995. The programme received its third major donor contribution, allowing its capital base to expand by 57 per cent to $494,000. The overall repayment rate achieved by the programme was 96 per cent.
143. During the period under review, continued improvement in the security situation in Lebanon allowed the 75 UNRWA schools to operate without disruption, with no days lost owing to strikes and disturbances as compared to 7 per cent of such days lost in the previous period. Enrolment in UNRWA elementary (six years of schooling) and preparatory (four years) schools and in the single secondary school reached 35,207, an increase of 1,560 pupils over the preceding year. Besides natural population growth, that unusually high increase in the student population was a result of the deteriorating socio-economic circumstances of Palestine refugees, which forced many families to transfer their children from tuition-based private schools to UNRWA schools. Although UNRWA schools in Lebanon registered the second-lowest rate of double-shifting in the Agency's area of operations, some 56 per cent of elementary classes and 39 per cent of preparatory classes operated on double shift, depriving students of extracurricular activities. About 45 per cent of UNRWA schools operated in rented premises lacking adequate space, ventilation and lighting and auxiliary facilities such as libraries, laboratories and playgrounds.
144. Pupils in UNRWA schools achieved a marked improvement in their performance on the annual Brevet examination for students at the fourth preparatory level, conducted throughout Lebanon in July 1994. The success rate for the 1994 examination stood at 49 per cent, compared to 38 per cent in the preceding year. The steady upward trend in the results achieved by refugee students reflected the cumulative impact of the Agency's remedial education programmes, which were designed to compensate for the disruption in the educational process resulting from the years of civil conflict in the country. None the less, the generally poorer performance of students in UNRWA schools compared to those in public and private schools remained a cause for concern. Remedial programmes continued to offer additional class periods, specialized learning materials, diagnostic examinations and special classes for slow learners and children with learning difficulties.
145. The Galilee secondary school in Burj el-Barajneh, established in September 1993, continued to develop in the 1994/95 school year, introducing three additional class sections in the second secondary class. The school was scheduled to reach full operating capacity in the 1995/96 school year, with 252 students accommodated in grades 11 through 13. UNRWA had established the school in response to the lack of access of Palestine refugees in central Lebanon to public schools and the prohibitively high cost of private schools in the area. The Agency had not provided secondary education in Lebanon since 1961. A project proposal was prepared for a new secondary school in Saida following the closure of a local secondary school partially funded by the PLO. Efforts to improve UNRWA's educational infrastructure in Lebanon continued. Reconstruction of the Naqoura school in Ein el-Hilweh camp, which had been damaged as a result of violence during the 1991/92 school year, was completed in December 1994. A new school building was inaugurated in January 1995 to replace dilapidated school premises in El-Buss camp, and another new school consisting of 12 classrooms was completed in Burj el-Shemali camp. Construction was under way for four school buildings which, with one operating on double shift, would accommodate five schools in Beddawi camp. Four school buildings in the Tyre and Saida areas were comprehensively upgraded and renovated.
146. During the period under review, the Siblin Training Centre provided vocational and technical instruction to 624 trainees, of whom 113 were women. Boarding students represented 38 per cent of total enrolment. The centre offered post-preparatory courses in electrical, mechanical and building trades, in addition to post-secondary, semi-professional training courses in architectural draughting, business and office practice, and electronics. A hairdressing course for women trainees was also offered. In response to increasing demand for secretarial skills, a first-year section of the secretarial and office management course was added to replace a class section in business and office practice. Two six-month courses in building trades were introduced after special funding was received for that purpose. The equipment in the centre's computer laboratory and office management section was upgraded. At the end of June 1995, funding was being sought to upgrade and expand the centre's workshops and purchase new equipment. The effectiveness of the centre's programmes was affirmed in a survey conducted in late 1994 which revealed that 92 per cent of the 1992 semi-professional graduates and 96 per cent of its 1992 trades graduates had found employment.
147. Through UNRWA's in-service training programme, 50 education staff participated in courses in health education and elementary school curricula and in a programme to upgrade teacher qualifications. Twenty-four trade instructors were enrolled in the final year of a three-year course to upgrade their qualifications. The Agency awarded university scholarships to 54 Palestine refugee students, including 18 women, on the basis of their performance in the baccalaureate examination.
148. UNRWA remained the main provider of primary and secondary health care to approximately 346,000 Palestine refugees in Lebanon, who relied especially heavily on Agency services owing to their lack of access to public-sector health facilities. Health services were delivered through an expanded infrastructure of 25 health centres or points providing comprehensive medical care, including family-planning services and mother and child care. Of those centres or points, 24 offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, 16 provided dental care, 15 accommodated laboratories and 15 provided specialist services in cardiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology and paediatrics and for the treatment of ear, nose and throat illnesses. Hospital care was provided to refugees through contractual arrangements with 11 general and two mental hospitals. In the absence of alternative hospital facilities readily accessible to refugees at more economical costs, the continual increase in the cost of services at private contracted hospitals made it impossible for the Agency to maintain its existing level of services without application of strict measures, including rationalization of referrals, reduction of the number of bed-days contracted and introduction of a system of cost-sharing for specialized hospital care.
149. As a result of the high priority that UNRWA had accorded since 1989 to its health programme in Lebanon in resource allocation to improve and expand health infrastructure at the primary level, most of the old unsatisfactory health centre premises had been replaced or upgraded and additional human resources recruited, placing the field health programme in a favourable position with respect to the staff/client workload. Preliminary work was begun on two other construction projects, a new polyclinic in Beirut and replacement of Burj el-Shemali health centre, both of which were funded under the PIP.
150. Several major projects to improve environmental health conditions in refugee camps were implemented during the period under review. In Nahr el-Bared camp, the second phase of an internal sewerage scheme to replace private latrine pits and surface drains was completed, serving approximately 90 per cent of the camp shelters. The second phase of a similar project in Burj el-Barajneh camp was completed, serving all but a few homes in the camp, and the system was connected to the main municipal sewer line. The Agency was seeking funds to extend both projects to the remaining shelters and to construct a sewage treatment plant for Nahr el-Bared. The first phase of a project to construct an internal sewerage system in El-Buss camp was completed in June 1995, serving 65 per cent of the camp's population of 8,400. UNRWA received a $6.7 million pledge to fund construction of water and sewerage networks in Beddawi, Burj el-Shemali, Dbayeh, Mieh Mieh and Rashidieh camps, complete the second phase of the project in El-Buss camp and the final phase of that in Nahr el-Bared camp and improve the existing water system in Ein el-Hilweh camp. The proposals for those projects were based on a WHO/EMRO consultant's report prepared in 1992. UNRWA ended its arrangement with private contractors for refuse disposal in Shatila, Burj el-Barajneh and Mar Elias camps after Beirut Municipality decided to extend its refuse disposal services to all camps in the Beirut area.
Relief and social services
151. At 30 June 1995, 346,164 Palestine refugees were registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, an increase of 2.33 per cent over the previous year. Lebanon continued to have the highest percentage of refugees - 10.47 per cent, or 36,239 persons - enrolled in the special hardship programme owing to restrictions on employment of Palestinians in the country and the large number of households headed by women. Lack of adequate housing continued to be a major problem, with many families who had been displaced during the years of conflict still waiting to be satisfactorily rehoused. In August 1994, UNRWA completed a multi-storey housing project in Ein el-Hilweh camp for 118 families evicted from illegal squats, with the assistance of special contributions and compensation monies from the Central Fund for the Displaced. The Agency maintained regular contact with the Lebanese authorities in an effort to find a mutually acceptable solution to the plight of Palestine refugee evictees and displaced persons. Much-needed rehabilitation of shelters of special hardship families inside the camps resumed in May 1995 for 96 families following a decision of the Lebanese Government, and it was hoped that special funding would be available for many more in the coming period. UNRWA remained deeply concerned over the deteriorating living conditions of the Palestine refugees in Lebanon, the overwhelming pressures which they faced and the attendant risks, which were highlighted at the Agency's meeting of major donors in March 1995 in Amman.
152. In the face of deteriorating socio-economic conditions among the Palestine refugee population, UNRWA widened the scope of its poverty alleviation programme to include not only special hardship families but also others living close to the poverty line who did not have access to credit facilities for income-generating activities. During the period under review, 18 special hardship families received self-support grants to establish micro-enterprises. In the autumn of 1994, a mini-loan programme was introduced, in addition to the existing self-support grants, to encourage all families to participate financially and to enable the revolving funds to reach more families. The loans, which ranged from $300 to $3,000 and were administered through local banks, carried an annual interest rate of 5 per cent. By 30 June 1995, 15 such loans had been issued, creating or saving 15 jobs. In June 1995, UNRWA took the first step in a gradual phasing out of grants in favour of repayable credit, with the introduction of soft loans offered to four families for income-generating projects. The loans consisted of a combination of loan and grant in which the loan component comprised up to 30 per cent of the total capital provided by UNRWA to each project. At the same time, the Agency cooperated with a locally based non-governmental organization to facilitate a group-guaranteed savings and loan scheme within the refugee community based on women's programme centres in the camps. Further support was given to the carpentry production unit established in Rashidieh for disabled young men by linking it with the special hardship programme. Selected special hardship families in urgent need of inexpensive wooden furniture or materials for shelter repair such as doors or window frames were able to place orders at the carpentry unit against cash subsidies from UNRWA. Training for trainers in starting up businesses was offered to representatives of local Palestinian non-governmental organizations and community committees.
153. The relief and social services department in Lebanon administered the income-generation programme's revolving loan fund for small-scale enterprises. During the period under review, 40 businesses, mainly in the service industry, received a total of $216,000 in loans, creating or saving 79 jobs. Loan recipients were required to contribute from their own resources an amount equal to 15 per cent of the value of the loan. The capital base of the programme stood at $284,000 on 30 June 1995, with an overall repayment rate of 96 per cent.
154. Rather than expand the number of community rehabilitation centres for persons with disabilities, the Lebanon field elected to support other community-based rehabilitation and integration programmes, such as the one run by the Palestinian Disabled People's Union in Ein el-Hilweh camp, a group committed to securing access to mainstream opportunities. In coordination with the union, a pilot project was undertaken to integrate pre-school age children with visual impairments in a kindergarten in the camp, following a course conducted for teachers and social workers in coping with the needs of disabled and able-bodied children in a mainstream environment. The Agency helped to finance tuition fees, which in turn were used by the kindergarten to engage the services of a blind teacher to help integrate blind children into the regular education programme. The field also pursued its policy of facilitating the admission of children with locomotor disabilities to UNRWA's own elementary schools. Fifteen schools in the central Lebanon, northern Lebanon and Tyre areas were adapted to the special needs of those children, enabling 70 children to participate in the 1994/95 school year. Cost-sharing in the rehabilitation of disabled children in specialized institutions was introduced in September 1994, with the contribution of 88 families averaging 10 per cent of the total costs for the 1994/95 school year. A survey was conducted among practitioners of community-based rehabilitation to assess the need for resources, and the field's Disability Programme Officer participated in the planning for a regional newsletter in Arabic on primary health care and community-based rehabilitation.
155. Within the context of PIP and UNRWA's policy of generating community-managed activities and strengthening institutional development within the Palestinian community, special attention was given in Lebanon to the participation of local Palestinian non-governmental organizations and community committees in training courses organized by the Agency. Those included community mental health and the community management of community rehabilitation centres and women's programme centres. UNRWA facilitated the establishment in March 1995 of a community-run women's programme centre for Palestinian and Lebanese women living in Dbayeh camp. The Agency provided start-up equipment and technical and administrative support, but the activities at the centre were managed by an elected women's committee and financed from the fees paid by participants. Among other initiatives on behalf of women, the functional literacy programme continued in the central Lebanon area and expanded to the Saida area, enrolling nearly 80 women in 1995.
VII. SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC
156. In the 1994/95 school year, 60,743 pupils in the elementary (six years) and preparatory (three years) cycles were registered in the 108 UNRWA schools in the Syrian Arab Republic, 520 pupils fewer than in the preceding year. The decrease in enrolment could be attributed to the movement of Palestine refugees to the Gaza Strip with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, as well as to Jordan. The academic performance of pupils in UNRWA schools remained high: pupils in the third preparatory grade achieved a passing rate of 91 per cent in the mid/94 national preparatory examination, compared with an average of 53 per cent in government schools. Nine of the top 10 highest scores nation-wide were earned by pupils in UNRWA schools.
157. Overcrowding remained a serious problem in UNRWA schools: 98 per cent of elementary classes and 91 per cent of preparatory classes operated on a double-shift basis, effectively depriving students of extracurricular activities. Fifteen per cent of schools were housed in rented premises lacking proper facilities conducive to learning. In an effort to alleviate those problems, the Agency constructed two schools at Yarmouk and Dummar and began construction of a third in Husseinieh. The new building at Dummar replaced two school buildings used previously. A new building containing a library, seminar hall and studio was constructed to house the education development centre. Six new classrooms were also built. Funds received under PIP to construct a school at El-Mezzeh in Damascus to replace rented school premises could not be utilized owing to difficulty in obtaining a site. Arrangements were being made with the donor to reprogramme those funds to other locations to construct additional classrooms on existing school premises. Additional funds were being sought to improve the education infrastructure by increasing available classroom space, replacing unsuitable rented premises and providing specialized rooms such as science laboratories and libraries.
158. The Damascus Training Centre operated normally, providing vocational courses in a variety of mechanical, electrical and building trades to preparatory-school graduates. Semi-professional courses were offered in paramedical services, business and office practice, and technical and electronic skills. Of the 767 trainees who enrolled in the 20 courses offered at the centre, 108 were women and 184 were full boarders. The amount of $770,000 allocated by UNRWA in 1993 for the first phase of a plan to upgrade the centre's premises and equipment was used to refurbish the centre's administrative offices, kitchen and dining facilities and the buildings where its paramedical and building courses were taught. It was the first time that the centre's facilities had been renovated since it was founded in 1961. Funds received under PIP were being used to construct a finishing and decorating workshop for a new course beginning in September 1995. Additional funds were being sought to broaden the centre's course offerings to keep up with local market demand for trade skills.
159. A total of 168 teachers, head teachers, school supervisors and instructors were enrolled in the in-service training programme, which assisted education staff in improving teaching methodologies, increasing administrative skills and aiding curriculum development. University scholarships were awarded to 208 Palestine refugee students, including 74 women, on the basis of performance in the general secondary school examination.
160. Approximately 337,000 Palestine refugees benefited from UNRWA's health-care services in the Syrian Arab Republic. The services were provided through 24 health centres or points providing comprehensive medical care, including mother and child care. Of those facilities, 24 offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, 22 offered family-planning services, 17 accommodated laboratories, 13 provided specialist services for cardiovascular diseases, paediatrics, and obstetrics and gynaecology, and 12 provided dental care. Hospital services were provided through contractual agreements with eight hospitals.
161. The Agency completed construction of a new health centre at Husseinieh which began functioning in March 1995. Construction was begun on new health centres in Homs and Sbeineh camps to replace the old unsatisfactory premises, and remodelling and upgrading of the Yarmouk main health centre and mother and child health centre were under way. Construction of an additional health centre in Yarmouk camp was scheduled to begin in the second half of 1995.
162. A major improvement in environmental health services was achieved in Neirab camp, where the Government constructed a 250-millimetre drinking-water feeder line and UNRWA rehabilitated the existing water network by changing its configuration from a branched to a looped system and installing additional pipes. The improvement in the hydraulics of the network enabled the entire camp population of 15,000 to have access to water. The Agency also prepared proposals for the construction of new sewerage and drainage systems at Khan Eshieh and Khan Dannoun camps, in the Damascus area.
163. UNRWA worked closely with the Syrian Ministry of Health to coordinate measures for disease surveillance and control, and cooperated with the Ministry in arranging the delivery of in-kind donations of hepatitis B vaccine, goitre treatment and medical supplies. UNICEF assisted the Agency with health training and health services research in the Syrian Arab Republic field as well as providing funds to upgrade the facilities of the field health pharmacy.
Relief and social services
164. At the end of June 1994, the registered refugee population in the Syrian Arab Republic numbered 337,308, an increase of 3.06 per cent over the previous year. A total of 21,619 refugees (6.4 per cent) were enrolled in the special hardship programme, a little over the Agency-wide average and slightly higher than in the previous year. Unsatisfactory housing remained a problem for many refugees. During the period under review, available funding made possible the rehabilitation of 53 shelters and planning for a further 85. The project for the rehousing of families living in dilapidated army barracks in Neirab camp was awaiting the approval of the Syrian Government, pending which UNRWA was consulting with the donor regarding other ways to use the funds committed for that purpose to improve the living conditions of refugees in the camp. In the autumn of 1994, the Syrian Government relocated 353 families from the Jaramana camp to a multi-storey housing project in Husseinieh. Faced with the cost of finishing their own apartments and undertaking mortgages, many of those families turned to UNRWA for assistance. After assessing needs, the Agency provided grants averaging $200 each to 213 families for home improvements such as plastering, tiling, window glazing and painting.
165. Although employment levels were relatively high in the Syrian Arab Republic, income was among the lowest in the region and there were few opportunities for poorer families to have access to credit. The Agency's group-guaranteed savings and loan programme attempted to meet part of that need. From the establishment of the programme through June 1995, 24 groups had been set up in different refugee communities, with a membership of 219 refugee men and women (130 of them recruited during the period under review), who used their loans to establish or expand small businesses. Plans to introduce income-generation loans on a larger scale had still not attracted the necessary special funding. In Ein el-Tal, a two-month training course was held in October 1994 for women interested in establishing a machine-embroidery production unit.
166. In the women's programme, emphasis was placed on the development of community-managed activities. A training course in community programme management skills was conducted for UNRWA staff and over 100 refugee women from locally-elected committees. A community-run women's programme centre was opened in the Alliance quarter of Damascus, and plans were developed for a community centre at Sbeineh camp which would include activities for women, youth and children with disabilities. Technical support was given to the kindergartens and crèches now established at four of the women's programme centres. In October 1994, a course for teachers focused on helping young children to develop healthy learning habits. The kindergarten at the Yarmouk women's programme centre was expanded with assistance from a special contribution.
167. The disability programme passed through a period of reassessment and consolidation as the need for further technical and management training for community volunteers became increasingly evident. Such training was being provided to volunteers in Neirab camp in an effort to develop the strong potential of the community rehabilitation centre. At the same time, the field responded to increasing demands for assistance from other refugee communities wishing to establish community-based rehabilitation programmes. Work was begun on a facility in the Alliance quarter of Damascus, and plans were drawn up for another facility attached to the Jaramana women's programme centre. In April 1995, a well-publicized campaign to screen children with cerebral palsy was held in Damascus, attracting several hundred parents; information on available services was distributed and children were provided with basic adapted chairs for use in their own homes.
VIII. OCCUPIED WEST BANK AND SELF-RULE AREA OF JERICHO
168. UNRWA's 100 schools in the West Bank accommodated 44,573 pupils in elementary (six-year) and preparatory (three-year) cycles in 1994/95, an increase of 1,984 pupils over the preceding school year. Besides natural growth in the Palestine refugee population, the return of families to the West Bank with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority was the principal reason for the larger than usual increase in enrolment. The addition of a tenth year to the basic education cycle, in accordance with reforms adopted by the Jordanian Ministry of Education, remained a pending issue in the West Bank, where UNRWA schools followed the Jordanian education system. Owing to lack of funds, the Agency was unable to introduce the additional grade in its West Bank schools as requested by the education department of the Palestinian Authority. A project proposal for the introduction of the tenth year in the West Bank was under preparation in mid-1995, for submission to donors.
169. The Agency noted a marked decrease in the degree of disruption of its general education and vocational and technical training programmes in the West Bank arising from curfews, general strikes and military closures. The proportion of days lost as a result of those factors fell from 14 per cent in the 1993/94 school year to less than 1 per cent in the 1994/95 school year for schools, and from 25 per cent to 14 per cent for training centres.
170. Despite that welcome improvement, UNRWA educational institutions continued to suffer heavily from restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli authorities. Education services in schools located within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem were adversely affected by the permit system imposed in February 1994 under which Palestinians holding West Bank identity cards were required to obtain permits to enter the Jerusalem area. The many West Bank residents employed as teachers or education staff at Jerusalem-area schools were prevented from reaching their place of work or were forced to risk illegal entry into the city; staff needing to pass through Jerusalem to reach their place of work in other localities were also affected by those measures. UNRWA was obliged to request permits for its staff, including teachers who held West Bank identity cards, to facilitate their movement between their residence and workplace. In February 1995, UNRWA teachers working in Jerusalem were eventually granted permits to enter the city. The most serious problem faced by the training centres was the inability of Gaza students to obtain permits to enable them to travel to and reside in the West Bank. During the period under review, only one out of 71 male Gaza residents registered in the Kalandia and Ramallah men's training centres had succeeded in obtaining such a permit.
171. The cumulative effects of the disruption of schooling in preceding years owing to the
and Israeli countermeasures continued to be felt in students' low levels of achievement. Pupils residing in West Bank refugee camps which had experienced a higher degree of civil disturbance were particularly affected. Achievement and diagnostic tests administered by UNRWA, as well as observations collected by education supervisors indicated that pupils suffered from weak performance in all main subject areas, including reading, writing, mathematics, science, English and social studies. Students' scores on the general secondary examinations (
) reflected poorer performance, as compared to results achieved prior to the
. To help compensate for lost teaching time and improve the level of achievement, the Agency continued to offer remedial classes to help students catch up with the regular education programme, particularly in core subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics and English. Curriculum enrichment and home-learning materials were distributed to pupils throughout UNRWA's West Bank schools. Diagnostic tests were administered to identify pupils' specific learning needs and develop remedial materials accordingly. Special education classes were provided for pupils with learning difficulties.
172. During the period under review, UNRWA achieved significant progress towards its goal of comprehensively upgrading its education infrastructure in the West Bank. Construction was completed on four schools to replace unsatisfactory rented premises, three classrooms to avoid triple shifting and six specialized rooms, and renovations were made on nine rented school buildings. An additional nine schools, four classrooms and one specialized room were under construction in mid-1995. Much of the funding for those projects was provided through PIP, which, at the end of June 1995, had received $10.3 million for the improvement of UNRWA educational facilities and other projects in the West Bank. Many West Bank schools remained overcrowded as a result of natural population growth, lack of funds to hire additional teachers or unavailability of sites for construction of additional schools or classrooms. The field's double-shift rate of 42 per cent - the lowest Agency-wide - was none the less a cause for concern. About 25 per cent of schools were housed in unsatisfactory rented premises which could no longer accommodate the number of students and which lacked amenities such as science laboratories, libraries and playgrounds. Several of the older school buildings used by UNRWA had become unsafe and needed to be replaced. Further progress in improving education infrastructure was expected as projects funded under PIP were progressively implemented in the coming months.
173. The three UNRWA training centres in the West Bank provided 1,248 vocational and technical training places to Palestine refugee youth, an increase of 32 places over the previous year. At the Ramallah Women's Training Centre, courses were offered in hairdressing, clothing production, business administration, ceramics production, social work and computer studies, in addition to programmes to prepare students for jobs as laboratory technicians, assistant pharmacists and physiotherapy assistants. The centre introduced a short-term training course for executive secretaries, and an architectural draughting course was transferred to it from the Kalandia Training Centre. The Ramallah Men's Training Centre continued to provide instruction in business administration, computer science, financial management, and marketing, while the Kalandia Training Centre offered training in the building, electrical and mechanical trades and post-secondary technical courses to prepare students to become construction technicians and land surveyors. The Kalandia centre's premises and equipment were upgraded using a special contribution, and a new workshop was constructed for a diesel engine and heavy-equipment mechanics course scheduled to be introduced in September 1995.
174. The Educational Sciences Faculty (ESF) at the two Ramallah training centres introduced its first third-year class of 150 students, bringing the total number of students in the first three years of pre-service instruction to 428 over the 1994/95 academic year. The ESF had been established in September 1993 in Jordan and the West Bank to provide a four-year training programme to qualify UNRWA teachers at the first university degree level. The facility offered specialized training to classroom teachers and teachers of Arabic, mathematics and science. The Agency upgraded the qualifications of 117 education staff through its regular in-service training programme, which offered courses in education administration and teaching methodologies and assisted teachers in implementing curricular changes. UNRWA awarded university scholarships to 150 students, including 88 women, to attend universities in the region.
175. UNRWA delivered primary health care services to some 517,000 Palestine refugees in the West Bank through a network of 34 health centres or points providing comprehensive medical care, including family-planning services and mother and child care. Of those facilities, 34 offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, 19 accommodated laboratories, 17 provided dental care and 17 provided specialist services for dermatology and obstetrics and gynaecology. Six physiotherapy clinics treated mainly disabilities arising from injuries. Hospital care was provided by UNRWA's general hospital in Qalqilia as well as on a contractual basis by four non-governmental hospitals where beds were reserved for refugee patients. The Agency continued to provide refugees with financial assistance towards the cost of specialized medical care at Government hospitals in Israel, for care which was not readily available in the West Bank. The permit system imposed on residents of the occupied West Bank adversely affected the health services available to refugees, preventing or delaying access to health institutions offering essential medical services.
176. The public health sector in the West Bank underwent a significant transformation during the period under review. The health care system that used to be run by the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in November 1994, a Palestinian health insurance scheme was subsequently introduced, and the Government of Israel made compulsory the participation of Jerusalem identity card holders in the Israeli health insurance scheme. The Agency's response to those developments emphasized close coordination with the Palestinian Authority to achieve harmonization of primary health care policies and services, and a strategic approach aimed at gradual redeployment of resources from non-governmental hospitals to Palestinian Authority hospitals. UNRWA provided logistical support to several missions organized in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, including WHO/EMRO staff and consultants. In July 1994, at the request of the Palestinian Authority, UNRWA allowed members of the Palestinian Police Force in Jericho to be treated at Agency clinics there and temporarily assigned an ambulance unit to the Jericho police medical service. While maintaining its support for non-governmental hospitals and taking necessary measures to rationalize referrals, UNRWA and the Palestinian health authorities pursued a new agreement on the treatment of refugee patients at Palestinian Authority hospitals providing for 75 per cent reimbursement of patient cost.
177. UNRWA continued to introduce major improvements at its 43-bed hospital in Qalqilia, completing a two-phase comprehensive renovation project during the period under review. The project included remodelling and upgrading of the men's and children's wards, the emergency clinic, and the administration, information and registration offices; provision of additional intensive-care beds and observation rooms; and construction of a new two-storey building with 550 square metres of floor space. The new building served to connect the various sections of the hospital to the surgical unit and compensated for the loss in bed capacity resulting from the expansion of other facilities. Work was in progress on a new health centre in Biddo village, and preparations were under way for the construction of health centres in Beit Our, Ein Arik, Ramadin and Yabad villages.
178. In the environmental health programme, construction of internal sewerage schemes in Nur Shams and Tulkarm camps was completed, with the exception of certain areas of Tulkarm camp which could not be covered owing to a funding shortfall. Feasibility studies and preliminary designs for sewage and waste-water disposal systems were completed for Arroub, Far'a, Fawwar and Kalandia camps, reflecting the Agency's emphasis on programme planning and design as a key part of overall environmental health strategy. Projects in those camps were prepared and UNRWA was seeking funding for implementation. In Jalazone camp, a non-governmental organization was cooperating with Bir Zeit Municipality on a feasibility study. A pre-feasibility study for water supply, sewerage and storm-water drainage was undertaken in the Jericho area at the request of the Palestinian Authority.
179. The intermittent closure of the West Bank by the Israeli authorities prevented health staff residing in the West Bank from reaching their place of work in Jerusalem and denied West Bank residents access to health facilities in the city. Restrictions imposed by Israeli customs authorities on the import of essential medical supplies were also a cause for concern, delaying shipments of needed items sometimes for months.
Relief and social services
180. The registered refugee population in the West Bank rose from 504,070 in June 1994 to 517,412 at the end of June 1995, an increase of 2.65 per cent, which was consistent with natural population growth. The proportion of refugees enrolled in the special hardship programme remained roughly constant, at 6 per cent, despite continuing socio-economic hardships which were exacerbated by the decision of the Israeli authorities to limit the number of Palestinian workers allowed to enter Israel.
181. Substantial progress was made in the rehabilitation of refugee shelters under PIP, for which funding reached $11.4 million for the West Bank. During the period under review, 1,060 shelters were repaired or reconstructed, of which 400 were contracted out to local construction companies and 660 were rehabilitated under self-help arrangements which included the issuing of 50,000 bags of cement. Work was in progress on a further 947 shelters, of which 200 had been contracted out and 747 were being rehabilitated under self-help arrangements. At the request of the Palestinian Authority's department for local government, the Agency erected 32 prefabricated houses at Aqabat Jabr camp with donor funds to accommodate Palestinians released from Israeli prisons.
182. The poverty alleviation programme addressed the needs of some of the special hardship and other impoverished families whose children had been unable to find employment. Under an apprenticeship training scheme, 95 young people aged 16-21 years were placed with local employers and 361 others were enrolled in vocational training courses. After completing their training, participants would either be helped to find employment or would be eligible to apply for soft loans to start up their own micro-enterprises, individually or as a group. Special attention was paid to the inclusion of women and persons with disabilities in that scheme. In coordination with international and local non-governmental organizations, UNRWA staff served as trainers in a course for potential entrepreneurs on how to start a business, held in the Nablus area in July 1994.
183. During the period under review, the income-generation programme targeting small businesses in the West Bank received a sizeable contribution, which brought its capital base to $2.4 million. The programme encountered difficulties with the loan collection procedures used by the local participating bank, which necessitated the temporary suspension of the programme in October 1994 while a new arrangement was being negotiated with another bank. Twenty loans worth $337,000 were approved and were to be disbursed upon completion of the new bank agreement, which was expected soon after the end of the period under review.
184. With the prospects of elections on the horizon, the women's programme centres and youth activity centres took an increasing interest in civic education. Workshops were conducted with the involvement of local non-governmental organizations on the meaning of democracy and the rights and responsibilities of voters. Legal literacy programmes of 25 sessions each were offered in four women's programme centres in different camps, covering issues ranging from personal and family matters to constitutional law and human rights. The women's committees in several camps requested additional technical support for leadership training and institution-building, a welcome confirmation that the time was right for the implementation of UNRWA's policy of promoting community management of programmes. Other courses and workshops for women were held on such topics as running a community library and coping with rape and domestic abuse. The development of pre-school facilities attached to women's programme centres progressed, with special funding for a kindergarten, to be run by the women themselves, at Askar camp. In March 1995, two workshops were conducted jointly by staff of the relief and social services and the health programmes for 29 kindergarten teachers.
185. In the community-based rehabilitation programme, activities expanded in Askar and Balata camps with the provision of new or renovated premises for which the local committees were largely responsible. In Jalazone camp, the youth activity centre made one of its own rooms available for community-based rehabilitation activities for disabled children and helped raise funds for a new programme after a group of refugees from the camp had conducted a survey to identify the needs of disabled people in the community. This important cooperation between different community groups was also manifested in Balata and other camps, through sharing of resources and representation on each other's committees. It helped to facilitate the integration of disabled persons into the mainstream of the community's life, as for example with the inclusion of 25 disabled children in UNRWA elementary schools in the camps in the 1994/95 school year. In the Jenin and Askar camps, local youth assisted in modifications to homes of disabled persons, with funding from non-governmental sources. Disabled people were taking a more prominent leadership role in various activities, and in January, following the annual winter camp in Jericho for disabled children from the West Bank and Gaza, they organized a demonstration on the theme "Allow Us to Build a State Together". Training for community rehabilitation workers continued, with sessions in July 1994 and March 1995 to prepare trainers for the home outreach programme, run by a non-governmental organization in close cooperation with the Agency, and with a workshop in November 1994 on the development of training material in Arabic. UNRWA staff continued to serve in an advisory role on the Central National Committee for Rehabilitation, which held a meeting in March 1995 to discuss future relations between the Palestinian Authority's department for social affairs and the community-based rehabilitation programme.
186. UNRWA cooperated with the Palestinian Authority's social affairs department in the preparation of a national plan for children and with the department of sports and youth to develop a national plan for youth. In the youth activity centres, a new round of elections produced committees which, through the Youth Activities Union, organized a workshop in October 1994 to consider their future relationship with UNRWA. The Agency's contribution to the joint UNRWA/UNDP/ UNICEF project for youth and children resulted in the upgrading of five youth activity centres by the end of June 1995. In November 1994, the Amari youth activity centre held the first Festival of Palestinian Arts and, in April 1995 hosted a football team from Amman New Camp in Jordan. In July and August 1994, the Agency cooperated with UNICEF and local and international non-governmental organizations on a national programme of summer camps in refugee camps, villages and towns for some 9,000 children aged 6-12 years. The programme involved training 700 camp supervisors at the central and local level. UNRWA also cooperated with local non-governmental organizations to establish secure multi-purpose play and sports areas for children and young people in the camps.
X. SELF-RULE AREA OF THE GAZA STRIP
187. UNRWA's 159 schools in the Gaza Strip operated normally during the period under review, providing elementary (six years) and preparatory (three years) education to 118,406 pupils, an increase of 8,707 over the preceding year. The sizeable increase in enrolment was mainly the result of the return of refugee families to the Gaza Strip following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in May 1994, which added 4,358 pupils to the student population at Agency schools. To accommodate that extraordinary increase, UNRWA hired 163 extra teachers on one-year contracts, over and above the increase of 113 teachers originally included in the 1994 budget. It was hoped that the Agency would receive sufficient funds to enable it to renew the temporary contracts of the 163 teachers and eventually to employ them on a continuing basis.
188. With the redeployment of Israeli troops away from main population centres in the Gaza Strip and the resulting decline in scenes of unrest, UNRWA educational facilities were able to operate unhindered for the first time since the outbreak of the
and Israeli countermeasures. Agency schools and the Gaza Training Centre reported no days lost owing to military closure orders, general strikes or curfews during the 1994/95 school year, as compared to 10 per cent of school days and 25 per cent of training days lost in the preceding year. None the less, pupils continued to suffer from the cumulative disruptions in the educational programmes in preceding years. Scores achieved by UNRWA pupils on general preparatory and secondary (
) examinations continued to be significantly lower than those achieved prior to the
. Tests administered by the Agency indicated that students lagged behind expected achievement levels. UNRWA continued to provide remedial education programmes in all its schools in the Gaza Strip, developing home-learning and curriculum-enrichment materials on the basis of diagnostic tests to identify pupils' needs. For the first time in more than 15 years, UNRWA teachers participated in administering
examinations, in cooperation with their colleagues from the Palestinian Authority.
189. The high rate of growth in the student population and the limited funds available to recruit additional teaching staff exacerbated overcrowding in UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip. In the period under review, class sections contained an average of 47.2 pupils, the highest classroom occupancy rate in the Agency's five fields of operation. Many schools were still housed in cement-brick buildings dating from the 1950s and 1960s, which had originally been intended as temporary structures. Three schools were forced to operate on triple-shift basis after other school premises had become unsafe and had to be evacuated.
190. The high priority placed by UNRWA on improving conditions in its schools was shared by donor countries which, by mid-1995, had provided $27.7 million through PIP for the expansion and upgrading of the Agency's education infrastructure and other projects in Gaza. Construction was completed on seven new school buildings and two specialized rooms, and work was under way on an additional 21 schools (including four funded from other sources), 86 classrooms and one specialized room. Comprehensive maintenance was carried out on five schools, while 67 schools were repainted and 25 playgrounds were completed in various locations. Funds received under PIP I enabled UNRWA to provide comprehensive maintenance to 14 Palestinian Authority schools during the period under review.
191. Vocational and technical training was provided to 629 men and 25 women at the Gaza Training Centre, which offered 13 two-year vocational training courses in the mechanical, electrical and building trades, as well as three two-year semi-professional courses in physiotherapy, industrial electronics, and business and office practice. Arrangements were being made to introduce a new course on architectural draughting, effective September 1995. In response to growing local demand for skilled labour in the construction sector, the centre offered 12-week vocational courses on aluminium fabrication, concrete forming, and plumbing. Although no training days were lost owing to closures, curfews or strikes in Gaza, male students from Gaza experienced great difficulty in obtaining permits from the Israeli authorities to attend UNRWA training centres in the West Bank. Gaza students had long made use of West Bank training facilities, as the number of training places in the Gaza Training Centre was insufficient to meet local demand.
192. The Agency's in-service training programme accommodated 162 teachers, head teachers, school supervisors and instructors during the period under review. Courses offered through the programme aimed to upgrade participants' qualifications by assisting them in implementing curricular changes, improving their teaching methodologies and enhancing their skills in educational management. UNRWA also awarded university scholarships to 220 Palestine refugee students, including 102 women, who had excelled in general secondary school examinations.
193. UNRWA delivered primary health care services to over 683,000 Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip through a network of 18 health centres or points providing comprehensive medical care, including mother and child care. Of those facilities, 14 offered family-planning services and 11 accommodated laboratories, provided dental care, offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and provided specialist services for cardiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology and paediatrics. The Agency operated an additional six physiotherapy clinics, as well as six maternity units with a total of 60 beds where approximately one third of all refugee babies were delivered. Hospital services were maintained through a contractual arrangement with a non-governmental hospital where 50 beds were reserved for treatment of refugees, or through financial assistance towards the cost of treatment at public sector hospitals. Notwithstanding the major improvements in expanding and upgrading primary health care facilities during the period under review, the demand on UNRWA services increased at a rate greater than the additional human resources that the Agency could make available within its limited financial means. The special arrangement of providing an afternoon-shift clinic in the five largest camps and in Gaza Town, originally begun as a temporary measure in 1992 to offset the heavy workload experienced by UNRWA health staff, therefore had to be maintained. The closure of the Gaza Strip had a detrimental effect on the health services available to refugees, preventing or delaying access to health institutions elsewhere which offered services not provided locally.
194. Construction of the 232-bed Gaza General Hospital progressed steadily despite delays caused by the frequent closures of the Gaza Strip and ensuing shortages of construction material. The structure of the hospital complex was completed, and the block walling plaster work, tiling, mechanical and electrical works were well under way. Additional contributions were received during the period under review to bridge the funding shortfall on construction costs and basic public utilities, as well as to fund the cost of senior staff positions, production of furniture, construction of the hospital's sewerage treatment plant and purchase of pharmaceuticals. Construction of the hospital was broadly on schedule and was expected to be completed in early 1996. Other improvements in health system infrastructure included construction and equipment of additional health centres in Beach camp and Tel el-Sultan, construction of a new mother and child health clinic in Fakhoura and construction of a dental clinic in Maghazi camp. Major renovation and upgrading of the Rafah and Khan Younis health centres were completed.
195. The Agency's Gaza College of Nursing was inaugurated in September 1994 after undergoing comprehensive renovations and upgrading of equipment. The centre-piece of the college was a three-year nursing programme for women, which had an enrolment of 53 in the 1994/95 academic year. In addition, 14 students completed a two-year midwifery programme and 25 students commenced their final year of training after transferring from a nursing school in Cairo. In conjunction with Bethlehem University, the college introduced a part-time accredited diploma programme for clinical instructors and supervisors. The college's programmes were developed in close coordination with the Palestinian health authorities, local universities and non-governmental health institutions. A major contribution also made it possible to begin construction on a new $2.3 million College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, which would eventually be affiliated with the Gaza General Hospital. Scheduled for completion in early 1996, the college would build on the successes of the Gaza College of Nursing in meeting the growing demand for qualified health professionals by local health institutions, as well as provide trained professional staff for Gaza General Hospital.
196. With its well-established infrastructure, highly trained staff and long experience in health care delivery and project implementation, UNRWA was in a unique position to provide technical assistance to the Palestinian Authority as it developed its institutional capacity in the health sector in the Gaza Strip. The Agency helped to conduct a comprehensive survey of primary health care facilities operated by the Palestinian Authority in order to assess the need for renovation and upgrading. Logistical support was provided to facilitate the work of WHO staff and consultants visiting the Gaza Strip to assess needs and assist in the development of the Palestinian Authority's national health programme. Using special contributions, UNRWA procured $1.2 million in medical equipment for the upgrading of Shifa Hospital, run by the Palestinian Authority, as well as $500,000 in medical supplies for various Palestinian Authority facilities in the Gaza Strip. The Agency helped to clear through customs several shipments of medical equipment and supplies donated to the Palestinian Authority.
197. During the period under review, there was marked progress in the special environmental health programme in the Gaza Strip. The primary focus of the Agency's activities was on providing adequate sewerage and drainage systems, the lack of which caused major flooding problems in camps and adjacent areas, created a direct health risk to the population and impacted on the local groundwater resource. The problem of sewage was closely linked to storm-water drainage and surfacing of roads. The virtually uncontrolled disposal of solid wastes contributed to groundwater contamination, as well as to rising insect and rodent infestation. The deterioration of the institutional framework for the delivery of environmental health services constituted an additional problem. UNRWA's activities in environmental health services were carried out within an overall strategy which emphasized sound planning, institutional development, community participation and the use of appropriate technologies to ensure that improvements would be sustainable in the longer term. The Agency worked closely with municipalities in the planning, design and implementation of projects and in developing local human resources and institutional capacities for the operation and maintenance of facilities and services. To cope with the expanding activities taking place in this sector, the special environmental health programme was strengthened to increase its surveying, design and site engineering capacities.
198. Work continued on UNRWA's $4.3 million project to construct a new internal sewerage system in Beach camp which, when completed, would serve 63,000 people. Construction was completed on sewerage and storm-water drainage systems serving the areas prone to flooding. A coastal gravity interceptor line was being built which would prevent raw sewage from the camp and the northern third of Gaza municipality from being discharged into the sea. The camp's two existing pumping stations were being upgraded and a third larger station was under construction. New roadways for the main thoroughfares of the camp were being built. Additional funding made possible the upgrading of solid waste services in the camp, contributing to overall sanitation. In connection with the Beach camp project, the Agency was seeking $8.7 million in funding for a two-phase expansion of the Gaza municipal waste-treatment plant, which was suffering from severe overuse.
199. UNRWA received a pledge of $11 million for comprehensive improvements to waste-water and storm-water infrastructure in Gaza Town. The first phase of the project would focus on developing a sewage and storm-water master plan through the preparation of feasibility studies and preliminary and detailed designs for sewers, pumping stations, storm drains and related streets and the upgrading of the Sheikh Radwan reservoir. The contribution would fund aerial photography and mapping, sewer and storm-drain cleaning and rehabilitation, institutional support for Gaza municipality, a public awareness campaign on environmental health issues, and monitoring of water quality. When completed, the project would directly affect half of the Gaza municipal area. It was expected that two additional large contributions for environmental health projects in the Gaza Strip would be received soon after mid-1995.
200. Consistent with the Agency's comprehensive planning approach for environmental health, feasibility studies and preliminary designs for sewerage and drainage systems had been completed by mid-1995 for Beach camp, Jabalia camp and municipality, Rafah camp and municipality, the middle camps area of Nuseirat, Bureij and Maghazi camps, and Deir el-Balah camp and municipality, and detailed designs had been completed or were nearing completion for Beach camp, the middle camps area and Deir el-Balah camp and municipality. Based on those studies, UNRWA had developed $102 million in project proposals for improvement of sewerage and drainage systems throughout the Gaza Strip. Implementation of the first phase of the project prepared by UNRWA to serve Rafah camp and municipality was begun after receipt of a $17 million contribution. In support of a solid-waste disposal project benefiting several camps and towns in the Gaza Strip, the Agency procured 17 garbage trucks, two wheel loaders, two tractor trailers and steel for the manufacture of 900 refuse containers, with a total value over $2.6 million. In coordination with the Palestinian Authority and local municipalities, UNRWA upgraded municipal garbage-depository sites and provided maintenance to water and sewerage systems. It organized campaigns to clear automobile wreckage and building debris from Jabalia and Nuseirat camps and was in the process of removing solid-waste accumulation from the beach adjacent to, and to the north of, Beach camp.
201. As a result of its financial assistance for local environmental health projects, its close ties with municipalities and the Palestinian Authority, and its collaborative relationship with three major solid waste projects in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA was instrumental in achieving coordination and promoting common standards and strategies in the environmental health sector among the Palestinian Authority, local municipalities and non-governmental organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. The Agency was able to provide technical assistance to the Palestinian health authorities in developing their own institutional capacity and in the planning, design and implementation of projects.
202. There was a limited outbreak of cholera in late 1994. A total of 103 bacteriologically confirmed cases were reported, of which 11 cases were refugees; the sole fatality was a refugee child. Close liaison was maintained between the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA to coordinate preventive and control measures during the outbreak. The occurrence of the outbreak reinforced the need for strict precautionary measures during the summer and autumn seasons and highlighted the importance of improving the poor environmental health infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, especially the sewerage and drainage systems.
Relief and social services
203. Geographically the smallest of the Agency's five fields of operation, the Gaza Strip was home to the second largest population of refugees, with 683,560 registered at the end of June 1995. That figure represented an increase of 6.21 per cent over the previous year, partly accounted for by the return of refugees who had been displaced in 1967 or who were recruited to serve with the Palestinian Authority. Gaza continued to have the second largest proportion (8.7 per cent) of refugees enrolled in the special hardship programme, reflecting the extreme weakness of the local economy as well as the closure of the Gaza Strip and the resulting decline in imports and exports and in work opportunities in Israel.
204. In Gaza, the seat of the Palestinian Authority's social affairs department, UNRWA developed a coordination mechanism with the Palestinian Authority for both Gaza and the West Bank, initially to compare the criteria, provisions and clientele of its respective welfare assistance programmes and draw up recommendations for harmonization of the two approaches. The Agency also cooperated with the Palestinian Authority's housing department on accommodation in the camps, where many of the returnees were housed. Generous donor funding allowed UNRWA's shelter rehabilitation programme to continue on an important scale, with 616 shelters fully rehabilitated during the year under review and a further 2,584 re-roofed. Aside from the much-needed improvement to housing, that subprogramme made a particularly useful contribution to short-term job creation in the camps.
205. Relief and social services staff were enrolled to become trainers in a "Start your own business" course in August 1994, and they themselves conducted several two-week sessions of the course in the first half of 1995. They also assisted the community rehabilitation and youth activity centres in preparing their own income-generation projects. Income-conservation activities aimed at more effective utilization of domestic resources included training for women in the maintenance and repair of sewing and knitting machines, many of which were used in cottage industries and at production units in the women's programme centres. Another 20 women were trained in food processing by a local non-governmental organization cooperating with UNRWA.
206. Funding under PIP made possible the construction of new premises for the women's programme centres, two of which were inaugurated during the period under review. This fresh beginning gave impetus to the formation of elected women's committees and their greater role in the management of their own programmes and budgets. Nine legal literacy courses were held in the centres, attended by more than 400 women, and six workshops on violence against women were conducted in April and May 1995.
207. Several of the community rehabilitation centres were strengthening their programmes despite the difficulties they faced in raising funds from the community to cover running costs, given the general socio-economic situation. UNRWA assisted with subsidies and in-kind aid to those centres and to several of the locally-formed non-governmental organizations which provided more specialist services to disabled children. The Agency actively promoted linkages between the community-based and specialist services and among organizations working with disabled people and the mainstream services, drawing in also the General Union of Disabled Persons and facilitating contacts with the Palestinian Authority.
208. The enrolment of visually impaired children in UNRWA elementary schools continued, with 36 children participating in the 1994/95 school year. Wheelchairs and prosthetic devices, including artificial limbs, eyeglasses and hearing aids, were made available to families who could not otherwise afford them, particularly to assist school-age children to secure an education suited to their potential. The Gaza Training Centre for the Blind was renamed the Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired, a symbol of the more sensitized awareness in the community of the needs and rights of persons with disabilities. The Centre, conveniently located in Gaza Town, became the venue for various community activities, including joint summer camps for disabled and able-bodied children in August 1994, and a week-long Palestinian heritage festival in April 1995.
209. Cooperation between UNRWA, the local community and the Palestinian Authority was also evident in the youth programme. In association with the Palestinian Authority's department of sports and youth, sports facilities at the youth activity centres were improved and a flourishing series of championship matches was held during the period under review. Under a joint UNRWA/UNDP/ UNICEF project, UNRWA had facilitated the upgrading of five youth activity centres by the end of June 1995, and had facilitated and supported the participation of young women in the activities of two of the centres. Three youth activity centres submitted project proposals for income-generating enterprises to subsidize their running costs. UNRWA also participated in the programme of job creation for released prisoners and young men disabled during the
, sponsored by the Palestinian Authority and the ILO, through representation on the advisory board and through a programme of staff training in July 1994 to assist staff in activating and utilizing the abilities and skills of released prisoners.
210. UNRWA's revolving loan fund in the Gaza Strip, administered through the field development and planning office, had accumulated a loan portfolio of $4.98 million as at 30 June 1995, with loans to 617 enterprises under two separate programmes. The small-scale enterprise programme provided loans to 88 small businesses during the period under review, creating 260 jobs. A total of $2.1 million in loans, ranging in value from $1,100 to $70,000, was disbursed. The participation of women enterprise-owners was actively encouraged, and women accounted for 9 per cent of the programme's borrowers. Of the businesses supported by the portfolio, 36 per cent were new. The second programme in the revolving loan fund, the solidarity-group lending programme, granted 389 six-month loans averaging $400 each to individual women enterprise-owners during the period under review. Loan recipients were organized into 74 groups of 4 to 10 women, which served to guarantee loans to individual members. The solidarity-group lending programme had a capital base of $102,000 as at 30 June 1995, with an overall repayment rate of 99 per cent.
Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-ninth Session, Supplement No. 13
Number of registered persons
(as at 30 June each year)
1 193 539
1 288 197
1 120 889
1 280 823
1 425 219
1 632 707
1 844 318
2 093 545
2 422 514
3 006 787
3 172 641
/ These statistics are based on UNRWA's registration records, which are updated continually. The number of registered refugees present in the Agency's area of operations, however, is almost certainly less than the population recorded. The Agency's budgeted expenditure is based not on the registration records but on the projected numbers of beneficiaries of its services. As at 30 June 1995, 181,437 persons were registered as special hardship cases and a further 30,000 persons were catered to through the social services.
/ Until 1967, the West Bank of Jordan was administered as an integral part of the Jordan Field.
/ This total excludes 45,800 persons receiving relief in Israel, who were the responsibility of UNRWA until June 1952.
Distribution of registered population
(as at 30 June 1995)
Number of camps
Total camp population
Registered persons not in camps
Percentage of population not in camps
Syrian Arab Republic
1 288 197
1 036 108
3 172 641
1 044 822
2 127 819
Number and distribution of special hardship cases
(as at 30 June 1995)
Number of persons
Number of families
rations receiving rations
Percentage of refugee population
34 231 2 008 36 239
20 640 979 21 619
31 149 1 917 33 066
28 796 2 228 31 024
56 679 2 810 59 489
171 495 9 942 181 437
/ Includes children under one year of age, students studying away from home, etc.
Medical care services
(1 July 1994-30 June 1995)
Type of service
Syrian Arab Republic
Health units with
Health units offering:
1 436 322
2 346 431
6 093 793
In-patient (hospital) care
Number of patients admitted
Number of patient days
Maternal and child health
Pregnant women newly
Infants under age 1 newly
Children 0-3 years of age
New family-planning acceptors
Expanded programme of
Number of infants who
Triple (DPT) vaccine
Number of school entrants
Number of booster
/ Including visits for medical consultations, injections and dressings.
Trends in incidence of selected communicable diseases
Staff members arrested and detained
(1 July 1994-30 June 1995)
Syrian Arab Republic
Arrested and released without charge or trial
Charged, tried and sentenced
Still in detention
/ Detained by Syrian Arab Republic forces in Lebanon.
Expenditure in 1994, operational budget for 1995
and proposed biennial budget for 1996-1997
(Millions of United States dollars)
Total estimated expen-
Proposed biennial budget
Total proposed biennial budget
Relief and social services
Other costs (allocable to programmes)
/ The figures listed are unadjusted and are based on the interim closure of accounts for the first year of the 1994-1995 biennium. Additional 1994 expenditure will be attributed to 1995 in the final biennial closure of accounts.
/ The 1996-1997 common costs contain various reserves, including equipment, temporary assistance, and fields and headquarters operational reserves. During the course of the biennium, these reserves will be spread across the programmes according to actual expenditure.
/ The amounts listed from 1996 represent funds set aside for the eventual payment of termination indemnities to Agency staff.
UNRWA in figures
(As at June 1995)
Syrian Arab Republic
Country population (CP)
3 400 000
13 812 000
4 095 579
1 395 455
23 593 034
1 288 197
3 172 641
RR growth(%) (1994/95)
RR as % of CP
RR as % of total RR
RR in camps (RRCs)
1 044 822
RRCs as percentage of RR
Pupils (1994/95 enrolment)
Female pupils (%)
Cost per elementary school pupil ($)(1994/95)
Cost per preparatory school pupil ($)(1994/95)
Vocational training places (1994/95)
Pre-service teacher training places (1994/95)
In-service teacher training (1994/95)
University scholarships (1994/95)
Total education posts
Offering dental care
Offering family planning
Offering special care
Offering specialist services
Annual patient visits (1994/95)
1 593 332
2 433 212
1 041 259
6 525 939
Indoor water supply in camps (%)
Sewered shelters in camps (%)
Total health posts
Special hardship cases (SHCs)
SHCs as % of RR
Women's programme centres
Total relief and social services posts
generation loans ($)
4 984 077
6 962 185
Relief and social services
Total regular budget,
EMLOT budget - 1995
PIP I - number of projects
PIP I - amount received
3 660 875
3 278 611
3 427 432
51 617 735
31 935 828
93 920 481
PIP II - number of projects
PIP II - amount received
1 800 479
1 315 443
24 793 562
1 023 595
29 848 658
15 years + (est.)
/ All references are to installations operated by UNRWA.
/ Thousands of dollars.
/ M = male; F = female.
Pertinent records of the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies