Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
23 April 1979
23 April 1979
Second regular session, 1979
Agenda item 14. Implementation of the Declaration
on the Granting of Independence to Colonial
Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies
and the international institutions associated
with the United Nations
ASSISTANCE TO THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
Report of the Secretary-General
The present report is submitted to the Council in accordance with resolution 2100 (LXIII) of 3 August 1977 in which the Council called upon "the United Nations Development Program, the specialized agencies and other organizations within the United Nations system to continue and to intensify, as a matter of urgency and in co-ordination with the Economic Commission for Western Asia, their efforts in identifying the social and economic needs of the Palestinian people". It further requested "the Secretary-General to submit annual reports to the Council on the action undertaken by the agencies and-organizations concerned and the results achieved". The General Assembly, in its resolution 33/147 of 20 December 1978 has endorsed "the resolutions of the Economic and Social Council concerning assistance to the Palestinian people".
The report contains information received from organizations, on action taken by them, in implementation of the above resolutions. Information received from other organizations at a later date will be issued as an addendum to this report.
United Nations Development Program
Through the period covered by this report, UNDP continued to provide assistance to the Palestinian people through ongoing regional projects. One such project supports the Institute of Education, currently located-in Amman, which was jointly created by UNESCO and UNRWA in 1964 in order to provide in-service training for teachers and key education personnel serving the UNRWA/UNESC0
school program. The schools under this joint program are mainly in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. In 1977-1978 the UNESCO/UNRWA
joint program covered 275,000 students in 577 schools, 4 normal training schools, 7 professional training centres and the above-mentioned Institute for the Training of Teachers. In 1972, the contribution of the Swiss Government for the activities of the institute was replaced by UNDP-contributions which totaled in 1977-1978 $1 million, with UNESCO as executing, agency. To date, UNDP assistance to this project has amounted to $2.3 million, for the purpose of helping the Institute to carry out research on its audio-visual program and to provide training to the teachers and educational personnel, mostly Palestinians, serving in UNESCO/UNMA schools in the region.
Another regional project in this category is the Arab maritime Transport Academy which offers training facilities to Palestinian students among others. Two other UNDP-assisted regional projects which also provide training to Palestinian students are the Institute of Statistics and the Arab Planning Institute.
An important development concerning assistance to the Palestinian people during 1978 was the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 33/147, entitled "Assistance to the Palestinian people". Though in principle this resolution is not a new departure for UMP since UNDP projects, as indicated earlier, included provisions designed to meet the needs of the Palestinian people, it placed emphasis on the role of the Program in the United Nations system in seeking to assist the Palestinian people through identifying- their social and economic needs and by establishing concrete projects to meet those needs.
The operative paragraph of the resolution calls upon "The United Nations Development Program, in consultation with the specialized agencies and other organizations within the United Nations system to intensify their efforts, in co-ordination with the Economic Commission for Western Asia, to implement the relevant resolutions of the Economic and Social Council in order to improve the social and economic conditions of the Palestinian people by identifying their social and economic needs and by establishing concrete projects to that end, without prejudice to the sovereignty of the respective Arab host countries, and to provide adequate funds for that purpose".
Pursuant to this resolution, the Administrator of UNDP informed the Governing Council on 26 January 1979 of his intention to convene, in co-ordination with ECWA, a meeting of the specialized agencies and other concerned organizations of the United Nations system for the purpose of defining the modalities for the identification of specific economic and social needs of the Palestinian people.
An interagency meeting was convened at Geneva on 15-16 February 1979 and the concerned agencies and organizations were invited. The following United Nations organizations participated: United Nations, International Labour Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, World Health Organization, Universal Postal union, International Telecommunication union, world meteorological Organization, Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, World Intellectual-Property organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Children's Fund, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Environment Program, United Nations Fund for Population Activities, World Flood Program, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Economic Commission for Western Asia, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, and the United Nations Development Program.
Following an exchange of views on the modalities for the implementation of General Assembly resolution 33/147, an Interagency Task Force was established to carry out the initial survey. The Task Force was composed, in addition to representatives of UMP and ECKA, of officials from UNIDO, ILO, FAO, UNESCO and WHO. Under its terms of reference, the Task Force was: "To undertake an initial identification of the special and economic needs of the Palestinian people and to work out a list of notional projects for meeting these needs, in conformity with General Assembly resolution 33/147, and to prepare a report, including a list of notional projects, for the consideration of the Interagency meeting".
The Task Force members were made available for this exercise as of 1 March 1979 for a period of two months. The Task Force met at Damascus on 3 March 1979 and proceeded immediately with its work, undertaking the consultations required by resolution 33/147. The Interagency Meeting will reconvene on 30 April 1979 at Geneva, to consider the findings of the Task Force and make recommendations to the Administrator. The Administrator will then prepare his report and formulate recommendations to the Governing Council for consideration at its twenty-sixth session in June 1979.
At its second regular session, 1979, the Economic and Social Council will have before it the report of the Governing Council on its twenty-sixth session, which will reflect the subsequent developments on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 33/147.
International Labour Organization
As regards activities undertaken by ILO to implement this resolution, there is only one project to report at present. The project consists of two fellowships awarded to two candidates designated in consultation- with the Palestine Liberation organization, for participation in a course in management of vocational and technical training institutions to be held at the Turin Centre from April to July 1979. The two fellowships are financed from technical co-operation funds under the regular budget of ILO.
ILO participated in the interagency meeting of 15 February 1979, convened at Geneva by the Administrator of UNDP for the purpose of defining the modalities for the identification of specific economic and social needs of the Palestinian people. The results of this meeting will be known in April 1979. A list of possible projects will be drawn up, with costs for submission to the UNDP Governing Council at its June 1979 session, and ILO is naturally prepared to take responsibility for the execution of the projects within its field of competence.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
In pursuance of resolutions 2026 (LXI) and 2100 (LXIII) of the Economic and Social Council, the Director-General consulted the Economic Commission for Western Asia and the Palestine Liberation Organization, in order to identify fields in which the Organization could contribute to the fulfillment of the social and economic needs of the Palestinian people. According to the wishes expressed by the Palestine Liberation Organization in November 1975, these contacts have been maintained through the Chairman of the Palestine National Fund.
As requested by the two above-mentioned resolutions, certain concrete projects have been formulated in 1978, in consultation and co-operation with the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people. These include the following:
(a) In January/February 1978, three Palestinian fellows participated in the Near East Workshop on Agricultural Investment Projects, which was organized in Rome and Tunis, at the cost of $US 18,000.
(b) In October 1978, a $61,000 project was approved, granting five one-year fellowships to Palestinian trainees in various fields of food and agriculture.
(c) In December 1978 another project was approved, for an amount of $10,000, to provide the co-operation of the Organization to the Palestinian National Fund for the compilation of agricultural data in the West Bank and Gaza areas.
Apart from this, the Organization has. been in touch with UNESCO, with a view to its possible association with the proposed establishment of a Palestinian Open university; but it was agreed, at the suggestion of the Palestinian National Fund, to keep this matter in abeyance, for the time being. Similarly, contacts have been established with UNRWA, in order to explore the possibility of associating that Agency with FAO's fellowships Programs for the benefit of Palestinian trainees; however, this matter was not pursuant in view of the constraints which resulted from the particular status of UNRWA.
World Health Organization
Within the framework of World Health Assembly resolutions WHA30.37 and WHA31.38, of Economic and Social Council resolution 2100 (LXIII) and of General Assembly resolution 33/147, WHO is providing the following assistance to the Palestinian people.
During 1976-1977, medical supplies and equipment were provided to the Palestine Red Crescent Hospitals in the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon which included clinical and surgical equipment for the fields of ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat surgery, biochemistry, as well as an operating table and an ambulance. A further amount was provided during the events in Lebanon in March 1978 to supply medicaments, dressings etc., and more recently WHO made arrangements to supply 200,000 doses of polio vaccine and
,000 doses of smallpox
vaccine. It should also be mentioned that WHO is always prepared to face emergency situations in providing assistance and maintains close contact with the Governments and the Palestinian authorities in this respect.
A Program has been drawn up to award fellowships to medical and paramedical personnel from the Palestinian population. The priority fields for training included rehabilitation services (physiotherapy and prostheses), radiology and radiotherapy, hospital administration, post-graduate nursing, laboratory courses and further studies for physicians and pharmacists. A number of candidates were selected and to date five have successfully completed their training. The WHO Regional Office for the Mediterranean has also provided fellowships to some Palestinian medical officers at present working in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Also in the field of training, the organization has provided the Palestine Red Crescent Society with teaching aids in the form of films and documentation related to the following subjects: blood transfusion techniques, treatment of burns and other injuries, mother and child care, obstetrics, nursing education and public health. A WHO contribution was allocated for an on-the-spot course to provide the population of the territories with qualified Medical Records Officers for the hospitals. This course was open to 15-20 students for a duration of six weeks. WHO has also arranged to partially finance a Polio Vaccination Project for the local population of the occupied territories. These projects have been completed successfully.
Two further grants were made available from the 1978 Development Program of the Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region to assist the Palestine Red Crescent Society with the expenses incurred in the recruitment of qualified physicians and technicians, including salary differentials, and to make urgent local purchases of supplies and equipment for its health services.
Apart from the direct assistance described above, it has to be underlined that WHO is also involved in Programs of assistance to the Palestinian population led by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). As a result of these activities it may be said that the general state of health of the refugee population is improving and that the trend of incidence of communicable diseases continues to decrease. The nutritional state is comparable to that of the general population of the host countries. Details of the assistance given by WHO through UNRWA may be found in the annual report of this agency.
In 1973 the Twenty-sixth World Health Assembly established a Special, Committee of Experts to study the health conditions of the inha6itants of the occupied territories. This Committee carried out a visit to these territories in April 1978, following which the Thirty-first World Health Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon the Director-General of WHO “to exert all efforts in order to improve the health conditions of the Arab inhabitants in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, in accordance with the findings of the Special Committee of Experts and its recommendations”. With a view to implementing this request discussions are now taking place to formulate plans to provide further assistance to these populations and in this respect close contact exists with the PLO which enjoys a special status within WHO.With regard to the training of health personnel the continuation of the fellowships Program has been suggested and the selection of suitable candidates will shortly take place. Also, following the success of the Medical Records Officers Course carried out in 1978, further projects similar to this could be implemented.
In addition, WHO will consider the possibility of the continuation or implementation of projects related to the immunization Program, more particularly vaccination projects for poliomyelitis, tuberculosis and measles, as well as in the field of maternal-and-child-health.
The Special Committee proposed that a pilot project to study the psychosocial aspects of health in the occupied territories could be undertaken within the framework of the WHO Program of mental health. This proposal will be studied to see to what extent it could be implemented.
One final project which has to be mentioned is the possible implementation of a cardiovascular diseases Program.
These proposals are currently under consideration and WHO hopes to be able to take positive action in this respect in the near future. In addition to this direct assistance to the population of the occupied territories WHO will continue to participate in the activities of UNRWA through assistance to this agency.
The World Bank
World Bank loans and credits to member countries in recent years have been increasingly directed to the needs of the poorest countries and to the disadvantaged population groups within countries. Within this context, improving the economic well-being of the Palestinian people residing in member countries is a matter of obvious concern to the Bank. However, since the Bank's Articles of Agreement require that loans and credits be guaranteed by member Governments, lending for projects designed to directly benefit special populations groups, e.g., the Palestinians, can only be made at the request of the Governments concerned. While Bank loans/credits committed to projects in the Syrian Arab Republic, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon amounted-to $423 million in FY78, it is difficult to measure the extent to which the Palestinian population will benefit directly; it is known, however, that our urban development and water supply and sewerage projects in particular, are expected to have a favorable impact on this population group. The Bank stands ready, if requested by member Governments, to assist in preparing and financing suitable projects aimed directly at improving the economic well-being of special population groups, including the Palestinian people.
International Civil Aviation Organization
ICAO is willing to co-operate, within its mandate, with ECWA and UNDP
on the implementation of Economic and Social-Council resolution 2100 (LXIII). At its twenty-second session in 1977, the Assembly of ICAO considered that "the Palestine Liberation Organization is entitled to participate as an observer in the sessions and the work of the ICAO Assembly and other international conferences convened under the auspices of ICAO and in the regional meetings dealing with matters related to its Territories.
Universal Postal Union
The UPU International Bureau contacted the Arab Postal Union (APU) in order to determine the possibilities of assisting Palestinians wishing to take up a postal career. APU stated that the PLO's membership in that small postal union entitled it to benefit from all forms of technical assistance which UPA could, directly or indirectly, obtain for it. In the sphere of vocational training, in particular, 10 Palestinian-students sponsored by the PLO were admitted for the academic year 1977-1978 to the Arab Higher Postal Institute (AHPI), Damascus, where they have the same advantages as the other students. At its session in September/October 1978, the APU Executive Council decided to add a new appropriation of $20,000 to its budget, to cover the costs of admitting Palestinian students to the AHPI in Damascus.
In addition the UPU International Bureau has pursued its contacts with UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) with a view to determining the possibilities of awarding postal training fellowships to Palestinians. The UNRWA secretariat has sent the UPU International Bureau several files of candidates. Depending on the number of applications it is anticipated that, in order to finance these fellowships, recourse will be had to the reserves of UPIJ itself, in particular its Special Fund of the APU, or of UNDP. Such assistance may take the form either of individual fellowships, or of special courses, if warranted by the number of candidates. Missions to the countries concerned by UPU consultants could also be undertaken with a view to estimating needs.
At the May 1978 session of the UPU Executive Council the UPU International Bureau drew the Council's attention to Economic and Social Council resolution 2100 (LXIII) and to the measures already taken by UPU in that area. The Executive Council took note of that information and made provision in the 1978 Program of the UPU Special Fund for the award of two fellowships to Palestinians. It did likewise at its February 1979 session in the case of the Program for the current year, on the understanding that requests for the financing of additional fellowships would be submitted to the APU.
In February 1979, UPU participated in the interagency meeting organized by UNDP on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 33/147, for the purpose of defining the social and economic needs of the Palestinian people. In pursuance of the conclusions of this meeting, UPU prepared a draft document concerning the project which it submitted to the
Working Group for study with a view to financing by UNDP or some other source. This project calls for four years, postal training for five Palestinians to prepare them to assume the functions of senior staff in the Postal Administration.
Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative organization
In regard to resolution 32/90 adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on Assistance to Palestine Refugees, IMCO has assisted the Arab Maritime Transport Academy which offers training facilities for Palestinians at the Academy in Alexandria, a regional project of which IMCO is the executing agency.
This regional maritime training institute provides training facilities at the pre-sea training stage; and training facilities at the post-sea level, where officers who have completed their requisite sea service are prepared for their examinations for certificates of competency as masters, mates and engineers. In addition, there is also a College of Maritime Transport and a school for the training of seamen.
According to our records, a total of 215 Palestinians have been trained since 1972. Some have received pre-sea training in the cadet college and some in the college for advanced studies. The number of trainees from Palestine, which was only 10 during the period 1972/73, increased to.72 during the period 1977/78.
These cadets and officers have received excellent training and those who have qualified as sea-going officers and engineers will no doubt find suitable employment on board sea-going ships. This is a major contribution towards the improvement of their social and economic conditions. Finally, it is to be assumed that the AMTA would continue to provide these training facilities to the Palestinian people in the future.
World Intellectual Property Organization
Resolution 2026 (LXI) of the United Nations Economic and Social Council was drawn to the attention of the governing bodies of WIPO, at their sessions in September 1976. A detailed report on how WIPO implemented the said resolution was given to the Council in document E/6005 at its sixty-third session in 1977 and a statement on the activities of WIPO relevant to the matters dealt with in that resolution was made at the second regular session, 1978.
The International Bureau of WIPO has established contact with the permanent observer of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) at Geneva and after full discussions, agreement was reached that candidates proposed by PLO would be considered for participation in the WIPO Fellowships Program in the field of copyright. In 1977, candidates proposed by the PLO were accepted by WIPO for training in the field of copyright. Although invited to present candidates under the WIPO Fellowships Program for 1978, no candidates were proposed
by the PLO. As regards the WIPO Fellowships Program for 1979, an invitation to present candidates for training in the field of copyright and industrial property has been sent to the Permanent Observer of the PLO in Geneva.
Representatives of the PLO were invited and participated at the expense of WIPO in the Regional Seminar on Copyright for Arab States organized
jointly with UNESCO in collaboration with the Arab Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) at Rabat, Morocco, in may 1977. Representatives of PLO were invited also to participate, at WIPO expense, in the Regional Meeting for Arab Countries on Technological Information from Patent Documents, organized by WIPO in co-operation with the Government of Egypt, IDCAS, UNCSTD, ZCWA and ECA at Cairo, Egypt, in May 1978. More recently, representatives of PLO were invited to participate, at WIPO expense, in a symposium on copyright organized
at Geneva in October 1978.
It should be noted, as mentioned also in paragraph 4 of document E/6005, that the International Bureau of WIPO has informed the Permanent Observer of PLO that it remains at his disposal for further discussions concerning the establishment and implementation of concrete projects to ensure the improvement of the social and economic conditions of the Palestinian people, and that it looks forward to continued co-operation with PLO.
The International Bureau of WIPO has kept the secretariat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia informed of its activities for the benefit of the Palestinian people and has welcomed any suggestion concerning co-ordination of efforts, as mentioned in paragraph 1 of resolution 2100 (LXIII) of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
International Atomic Energy Agency
Since 1976, the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency has invited the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate, as an observer, in its sessions and meetings. There have been consultations between the Department of Technical Assistance of the Agency and the representative of PLO at Vienna to identify social and economic as well as scientific needs of the Palestinian people in the nuclear energy field. As far as the Agency's own technical assistance operations are concerned (provided from the Agency's own resources) eligibility is confined to member States or groups of member States) hence, any request on behalf of PLO would have to be channeled through a member State or group of member States. No specific, request for technical assistance has so far emerged from the consultations referred to.
The Agency would, of course, also be prepared to execute any Program of assistance for PLO, financed, by UNDP but so far no projects in this category have emerged.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Within the purview of its mandate to deal with the question of trade and trade as it relates to development, UNCTAD has in the past year established preliminary contacts in the area of technical co-operation with representatives of the Palestinian people with a view to exploring possible forms of assistance within its field of competence.
During the past year UNCTAD had no regular program of technical co-operation of its own and the bulk of its operational activities were financed by UNDP. UNCTAD indicated that it would be prepared to support any request submitted by the representatives of the Palestinian people in the field of international trade as soon as UNDP will allocate IPF resources for this purpose. Meanwhile, the possibility for the Palestinian people to participate in some regional or interregional projects executed by UNCTAD was also discussed. As an example, UNDP authorized UNCTAD to send a formal invitation to PLO to attend a regional workshop organized at Colombo on major issues relating to trade and development within the context of a New International Economic Order, for which two nominations were received.
United Nations Children's Fund
In addition to previous assistance reported by the Secretary-General under document E/1978/55 of 9 May 1978, UNICEF has, during the course of 1978, provided $200,000 from the Executive Director's Emergency Reserve to assist displaced Palestinian children and mothers within the context of the UNICEF-assisted relief and rehabilitation Program in Lebanon.
UNICEF assistance was provided in spring 1978 to meet the urgent needs of 50,000 displaced Palestinian families from the South. The relief action was carried out jointly by UNRWA, the General Union of Palestinian Women and UNICEF and included the provision of food-stuffs (wheat, rice, sugar and milk), blankets and mattresses.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
In pursuance of Economic and Social Council resolutions 2026. (LXI) and 2100 (LXIII), and the conclusions of the Permanent Committee of the Industrial Development Board at its 10th Meeting
/ in May 1978, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization continued its contact with the representative of the Palestine Liberation organization, the, Economic Commission for Western Asia, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General at Beirut and the Senior Industrial Development Field Adviser in the area. The purpose of these contacts was to consider ways and means to comply with the PLO request to undertake a survey of manufacturing activities in the West Bank of Jordan and the Gaza Strip.
Offers for fellowships in different fields of industrial development and in-plant training were also made. Nominations for these fellowships are awaited.
In the meantime, UNIDO participated in an Interagency Meeting convened by the United Nations Development Program at Geneva in February 1979 on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 33/147 of 20 December 1978 on assistance to the Palestinian people. In particular, UNIDO welcomed a UNDP proposal to set up an interagency task force to undertake a survey of the economic and social needs of the Palestinian people, since this would generally accord with the conclusions of the Permanent Committee at its tenth session.
A task force consisting of representatives of the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and UNIDO, apart from UNDP and the Economic Commission for Western Asia, was thus constituted in the course of the meeting with a view to undertaking an initial identification of the social and economic needs of the Palestinian people and to preparing a list of proposed projects to meet those needs. The UNIDO member took up duties in connection with the task force at Damascus in the first week of March 1979. The report of the task force, together with the recommendations of the UNDP Interagency Meeting will be submitted to the Administrator of UNDP to enable him to submit his own report to the Governing Council at its session due to be held in June 1979.
World Food Program
WFP did not in 1978 initiate any new projects for the specific benefit of the Palestinian people as such, nor was it presented with any such project requests by host Governments. But many Palestinians undoubtedly continued to benefit from WFP's many regular Program and emergency operations in Near Eastern countries where large numbers of Palestinians reside. We have no means of estimating how many Palestinians may have thus benefited.
Prior to 1978, two WFP emergency projects were initiated, with the approval of the Director-General of PAO, for the assistance of Palestinians. The first, approved in October 1971, provided food aid to Palestinian refugees in Jordan at a cost to WFP of $2 million. The second, approved in May 1977, provided food aid to Palestinian refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic at a cost to WFP of $1.4 million.
WFP is at present co-operating with an interagency task force established by UNDP in response to General Assembly resolution 33/147 to endeavor to help to identify further the needs of the Palestinian people and notional projects to help them.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
Since May 1950, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has been providing education, health and relief services according to eligibility for Palestine refugees
/ and their descendants registered for assistance, who numbered 1,768,766 at 31 December 1978. Although there has been no census of Palestinians, the registered refugees are probably more than half the total Palestinian population living in Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, Jordan and the occupied Territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which constitute the Agency's area of operations. Consequently UNRKA is a major provider of education, medical services, food and welfare to the Palestinian people.
These services have evolved over the years in direct response to the needs of the refugees and the Agency's financial ability to meet them. By the end of 1978, more than $1.5 billion had been expended by UNRWA on assistance to Palestine refugees. The education services were operated in co-operation with UNESCO, the health services in co-operation with WHO.
The regular programs are fully described in the annual reports of the Commissioners-General of UNRWA. For an account of the Program in 1978, the reader is referred to the annual report for the period 1 July 1977-30 June 1978 (
Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-third Session, Supplement No. 13
(A/33/13)). In brief, about 326,000 children received elementary and preparatory (lower secondary) education in UNRWA schools) 7,000 pupils were assisted with their secondary education at local government or private schools) 4,500 trainees followed vocational or teacher training courses at eight UNRWA centres) 339 students were awarded scholarships for university study; modest Programs of pre-school, youth and women's activities and adult craft-training were conducted; and professional in-service training was provided for medical and education personnel. Medical services were available to 1.5 million refugees, and supplementary feeding for such vulnerable groups as young children and expectant and nursing mothers. In the camps, the Agency provided environmental sanitation and assistance with repairs to housing. Monthly basic rations of flour, rice, sugar and oil were distributed to about 830,000 refugees; and special hardship assistance was given to families in particular need. The total cost of financing the services was $131,262,000. The Programs were carried out by some 16,500 employees, mostly teachers, all but a handful of whom are themselves Palestine refugees, under the direction of 117 international staff.
The prime determinant of UNRWA's ability to meet the needs of the
refugees is the level of its financial resources. Given the funds, there are many projects which the Agency would be keen to implement. They include, for instance, expansion of the vocational training Program to-equip a larger number of adolescents with the skills in growing demand in the Middle East. There is an urgent need to furnish the elementary and preparatory schools with adequate library facilities: at present, the annual average expenditure per pupil on books is a mere 10 US cents, compared with the minimum world-wide standard of $1 recommended by UNESCO. Refugees with special handicaps, because of physical or mental disability or chronic illness, have legitimate claims for additional assistance which UNRWA well recognizes but is impotent to meet. These are simply a few selections from a much longer listing. The sad truth is, as the Agency has pointed out repeatedly over the years, that income is insufficient to maintain even the minimum services at the established levels. If 1978 ended without the Agency's being in deficit, it was only at the expense of curtailment of certain of these services. In particular, the flour component of the basic rations was reduced from 10 kgs monthly per ration recipient to 6.7 kgs; and the construction of school buildings to replace highly unsatisfactory ones could not be fully implemented. In all, the budget for 1978 had to be reduced by $16.2 million over the year.
Nevertheless, within those constraints, a limited number of improvements were possible, of a nature to enhance the efficiency with which services met refugees' needs or to enrich an existing Program. The following paragraphs illustrate but are not exhaustive.
In 1978, expenditure on the education Program, which accounted for some 58 per cent of the total budget, increased by 16.5 per cent over 1977, from $65,420,000 to $76,230,000. The major item of additional outlay was on the school education program which expands each year to cater for the growing school-age population. In 1977/78 the new intake included over 10,500 pupils more than in 1976/77 and some 274 additional teachers were appointed. Most UNRWA
school building are already operated on a double-shift basis to cope with the numbers of pupils. Some of the buildings urgently require replacement. During the year, $2.1 million was allocated to building 134 additional classrooms and specialist units, and a further $0.5 million committed to improving facilities within the schools. In the vocational training Program, courses offered at certain of the eight centres were extended to others: the Laboratory Technicians course to the Wadi Seer Training Centre in Jordan and the Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Mechanics course to the Siblin Training Centre in Lebanon. The Machinist/Welder course is in process of being redesigned and updated to reflect the changing pattern of technology in the region.
Health services accounted for $22,027,000 of total expenditure, or 16.8 per cent, an increase of 10 per cent over 1977. The quality of the medical services provided at the health centres is under continuous review. Specialized clinics are opened for the treatment of conditions prevalent in a given area (tuberculosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, dermatological and rheumatic complaints and eye diseases); small clinical laboratories attached to health units have been equipped to perform bio-chemical tests previously referred to central laboratories. Special attention was focused on the level of nutrition among infants and young children and their mothers. Following General Assembly resolution 32/111, and in collabotration with WHO, the Department
of Health conducted a further nutrition survey in the spring of 1978. (The most recent earlier surveys had been carried out in the autumn of 1974 and spring of 1975). The findings demonstrated a generally satisfactory level of nutrition among the refugee children, which compared favorably with the pattern observed by other researchers among indigenous children in the host countries. The main problem identified was relatively widespread protein-energy malnutrition during the weaning period, from which, the child does not fully recover before
he reaches school age. Remedial action under way involves intensified follow-up of the under-nourished in the nutrition clinics attached to the health centres, and a reorganized Program of milk distribution in powder form monthly through the child health clinics to the 2-3 year age-group (as well as the infants under two years already receiving it). These measures are achieving increased attendance at the child health clinics and consequently closer surveillance of the children's nutritional level, and ensure also greater consumption of milk than had previously been the case when it was issued in liquid form through the supplementary feeding centres. (For details of the nutrition survey and the reorganized Program, see the reports of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly in accordance with resolutions 32/111 (A/33/181) and GA 33/81).
/ The other significant improvement in 1978 was in the sanitary conditions in the camps. The Agency participated, with an allocation of $170,000, in self-help projects carried out by the refugees to construct drains and pathways in 25 camps throughout the area of operations, to connect sewage systems to local authority networks in Lebanon, and to continue the provision of private water connections and latrines to those families still without them. The schemes were undertaken with the co-operation of the local municipal and governmental authorities and, in Lebanon, the Palestine Liberation organization.
The third category of service, the relief Program, involved expenditure in 1978 of $28,356,000, compared with $32,559,000 in 1977, and accounted for 21.6 per cent of the total budget. It comprises essentially the basic ration, with very limited shelter and welfare assistance. In 1978, shortage of cash and insufficient contributions of flour in kind necessitated a reduction in the flour component of the ration (see para. 4 above - this largely accounted for the decrease in expenditure over 1977). To ensure that this reduction did not affect those most in need of the assistance provided by the monthly ration, the Agency introduced in June an extra ration for special hardship cases. Needy families in Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were given the opportunity to apply for this assistance which initially comprises the difference between the quantity of flour issued to each ration recipient and 10 kg per month. By the end of the year, some 15,000 persons were benefiting from the extra ration and it is expected that their number will substantially increase and include families in Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic in 1979. Given additional resources, the Agency would like to supplement this assistance with animal protein, in the form of skim milk and/or tinned meat.
An extraordinary form of assistance was regrettably necessary in Lebanon in the spring of 1978, for some 67,000 refugees displaced by the Israeli military action in the south. Between March and June, bedding and clothing were distributed and an emergency feeding Program mounted. A substantial part of the Program was carried out in co-ordination with UNICEF and the General Union of Palestinian Women, and with the co-operation of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Refugee shelters and Agency installations sustained damage estimated at $310,000. Funds and supplies were provided by Governments, voluntary organizations and intergovernmental agencies over and above their contributions in the regular budget. The total cost of the emergency program amounted to $1,269,000.
/ ID/B/211, paras. 160-163.
/ Palestine refugees (by UNRWA's definition for operational purposes) are persons whose normal residence was Palestine for a minimum of two years preceding the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948 and who, as a result of that conflict, lost both
their homes and their means of livelihood. To be eligible for UNRWA assistance, refugees (and their direct descendants), must be (a) registered with UNRWA, (b) living in the area of UNRWA's operations and (c) in need.
/ Of the international staff, 23 are loaned by UNESCO to provide technical guidance for the education program and 5 by WHO to provide technical guidance for the health program.
/ Report to be made to the General Assembly at its thirty-fourth session in 1979.