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Chair's summary on Stockholm International Donor Conference on the Humanitarian Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
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The Stockholm International Donor Conference on the Humanitarian Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was hosted by the Swedish Government on 1 September 2006. The conference was co-hosted by Norway and Spain, and was a follow-up to the technical meeting held in Geneva on 14 July 2006. It was prepared and carried out with the active participation of the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority, and addressed immediate funding needs under the revised United Nations consolidated appeal as well as underlying policy concerns, including movement and access issues.
The conference was attended by 35 countries, more than 10 UN agencies, the EC, the Red Cross Movement and a number of international organisations, making the conference truly global.
During the conference, the Office of the Palestinian President and the United Nations presented assessments of the most immediate needs and policy concerns in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Gaza in particular, some 1.4 million people, half of them children, live under extremely difficult conditions as a result of the currently closure regime, military operations and violence, virtually no payments of civil servant salaries, rampant unemployment, reduced electricity and water supply. The conference also agreed that the internatinal community should address the grave environmental situation at the Gaza strip without delay.
The conference recognized that the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza is manmade and caused by continued conflict, violence, and occupation. Several delegations stressed the need for both parties of the conflict to respect international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and to ensure the protection of civilians. In this context it is important to emphasize that a negotiated settlement of the conflict, based upon the demands of the quartet, the road map and international law, is the single most important factor for an improvement of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The conference reiterated that unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance to the affected population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is an obligation under international humanitarian law and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The participants further noted that the right to receive humanitarian assistance is a fundamental humanitarian principle, which should be enjoyed by all, who are in need.
The need for rehabilitation and reinvigoration of the Palestinian economy was stressed, and particularly the need to ease the movement and access restrictions imposed on the civilian population.
There is an urgent need to ensure free access and movement for relief and recovery operations in to and out of Gaza strip and the West bank. The most pressing need, currently, is the restoration of civilian infrastructure, including for electricity, water and sanitation. Other areas of great concern are health, agriculture, and education for Palestinian children.
The conference noted the complementary aspects of the UN Consolidated Appeals Process and the Temporary International Mechanism as important multilateral instruments to deal with the current situation. The meeting commended the progress reported by the EC in implementing the TIM and stressed the need to fully implement the mechanism. Reaffirming the principles agreed upon by the Quartet, the meeting underscored the importance of maintaining effective structures within the Palestinian authority to provide for the Palestinian people. A further deterioration of the Authority's institutional capacity risks causing severe long term effects to the Palestinian society.
Many delegates stressed the importance that Israel releases the Palestinian VAT and tax funds of approximately 500 million USD without delay. This would meet the most urgent Palestinian needs.
The financial, economical and political requirements for early recovery and reconstruction were discussed, and the delegations stressed the need for flexible funding in this regard. Even in this respect the issue of access was raised as a major concern.
This conference resulted in a total amount pledged in the order of 200 million USD. Approximately 110 million USD is announced to meet humanitarian needs and of that amount 55 million USD covers the request of the Consolidated Appeal. This means that the coverage of the CAP has increased from 43 per cent to 58 per cent. In addition to this, Saudi Arabia also pledged 250 million USD. Most of the assistance to the Palestinian Territories will in this point of time be directed to meet the humanitarian needs.