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Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
1 July 2001-30 June 2002
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Letter of transmittal
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 (UNRWA) for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, in compliance with the request contained in paragraph 21 of resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 and with paragraph 8 of resolution 1315 (XIII) of 12 December 1958.
In the introduction in chapter I, an overview of the funding situation that UNRWA is facing and of events and developments in the region is provided, with reference to its five fields of operation, in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
Chapter II covers general developments in the education, health, relief and social services, and microfinance and microenterprise programmes of the Agency, as well as projects and emergency appeals funded by donors.
Chapter III covers financial matters, including the regular budget, the projects and emergency budgets, income and expenditure, extrabudgetary activities, and the Agency’s current financial situation.
Chapter IV deals with legal matters, in particular those relating to Agency staff, services and premises, as well as constraints affecting Agency operations.
Chapter V provides information on UNRWA operations and its main programmes in the Jordan field, while chapter VI deals with the Lebanon field, chapter VII with the Syrian Arab Republic field, chapter VIII with the West Bank field and chapter IX with the Gaza field.
Annex I provides statistical and financial information regarding the Palestine refugees and Agency programmes, finances and staff. Annex II refers to pertinent records of the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies.
Following established practice, the annual report in draft form was distributed in advance to the ten members of the Advisory Commission, whose relevant comments and observations were given careful consideration. The draft report was discussed with the Commission at a meeting held in Amman on 26 September 2002. The views of the Commission are contained in a letter addressed to me from the Chairperson of the Advisory Commission. A copy of the letter follows.
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. Pursuant to General Assembly decision 48/417 of 10 December 1993 that the Advisory Commission establish a working relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a representative of the PLO attended the meeting of the Commission on 26 September 2002 and a copy of the draft report was shared with him.
President of the General Assembly
Letter dated 26 September 2002 from the Chairperson of the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East addressed to the Commissioner-General of the Agency
At its regular session, on 26 September 2002, the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East considered your draft annual report on the Agency’s activities and operations during the period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, which is to be submitted to the General Assembly at its fifty seventh session.
The Commission noted with concern the continuing deterioration in the political, economic and social situation in the region during the reporting period. It expressed deep concern regarding the serious and mounting humanitarian crisis that is occurring in the occupied Palestinian territory. The crisis is evidenced primarily by rising levels of malnutrition among children, high levels of poverty and unemployment, deteriorating health conditions, the displacement of an increasing number of Palestinians following the destruction of their homes and the disruption of educational programmes and an increasing exhaustion of the capacity of the Palestinian population to sustain itself in the face of the continuous decline in economic and social conditions since September 2000. These conditions had a particularly severe effect on the Palestine refugees, who were often among the poorest and most vulnerable part of the population.
The Commission noted with concern that internal and external closures, curfews and other restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had led to severe and sustained mobility restrictions on the Palestinian population and had repercussions on their daily life and future. The restrictions had led to the loss of access by the population to employment and income as well as access to essential goods and services. The restrictions also had a serious impact on the ability of the Agency to move staff and humanitarian assistance to those in urgent need. The Palestinians urgently needed supplies and services. Delays and non-delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to refugees became particularly severe during the second half of the reporting period as the conflict and level of violence became more intense, particularly in the West Bank. The Commission noted the negative impact of those practices on UNRWA operations and stressed the need to take urgent measures to remove restrictions placed on the movement of Agency staff and goods in keeping with the agreements between UNRWA and the Government of Israel and with international law.
The Commission commended the Agency’s management and staff under your leadership for the resolute and effective response to the continuing emergency in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Commission noted with appreciation the dedication with which many of the Agency’s staff members worked for long hours in the field to overcome obstacles often in dangerous and even life-threatening situations, to deliver assistance to those in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The Commission commended the efforts of the Agency to respond to the continuing emergency in the occupied Palestinian territory and to mobilize contributions by the international community for its emergency appeals. It noted that, by the end of the year 2001, donors had contributed $132.2 million in response to appeals amounting to $160.3 million. It also noted that the Agency had launched an appeal for $117 million for the year 2002. That was supplemented by an additional appeal for $55.7 million in the month of June 2002, in response to the major deterioration in economic, social and living conditions, particularly in the West Bank, as a result of renewed fighting, and Israeli military operations in Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps, during the closing months of the reporting period. The Commission noted with concern that the response of the international community to the 2002 appeal and the supplementary appeal has been slow, in that by the end of August 2002 only $83.4 million had been pledged and $48.7 million had been actually received. In the light of the mounting humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory, the Commission appeals to the international community to do its utmost to enhance their contributions to the emergency appeals and meet the targets as soon as possible.
The Commission also expressed its concern at the destruction of and damage to the infrastructures and facilities of UNRWA and of refugee shelters that occurred in refugee camps, especially the camp at Jenin.
The Commission expressed its appreciation for the manner in which the Agency had conducted a very effective programme of delivery of emergency assistance to the affected refugees over the preceding two years, taking advantage of its widespread infrastructure and trained staff in the affected areas. Furthermore, the Commission noted that the Agency’s system of periodic reporting to donors on the emergency programme had kept them well informed of its implementation. The Commission urged the Agency to make every effort to ensure continuing close coordination with other organizations and to detail those efforts in its periodic reports.
The Commission underscored the crucial importance of the Agency’s regular budget and the need for a consistent and growing level of contributions to it. It noted with satisfaction that, for the year 2001, contributions by donors had shown an improvement and that against an approved level of $289.7 million, contributions amounting to $282.4 million had been received. The Commission stressed the importance of a steady and predictable growth in contributions to the regular budget for the years 2002 and 2003, which makes it possible to respond more fully to the refugees’ real needs.
The Commission noted that the General Assembly had approved the 2002-2003 biennial budget at the level of $791.7 million. It also noted that, against a regular budget planned expenditure of $301.8 million during 2002, pledges of only $271.3 million had been received by the end of August. The Commission stressed the importance of adequate contributions to the regular budget to ensure and enhance the maintenance and effectiveness of the Agency’s infrastructure and its main programmes of assistance to the refugees. It emphasized the importance of a working capital reserve, to protect special projects and emergency appeal funds and ensure the timely implementation of their intended programmes.
The Commission noted with concern the continuing debt on account of non-reimbursement of value-added tax (VAT) payments and port charges amounting to $23 million and $7.5 million respectively. It noted with appreciation that the Palestinian Authority had introduced a zero rating system for VAT in the Gaza Strip and was considering its extension to the West Bank. It urges the Agency to pursue the matter of the two reimbursements with the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel.
The Commission noted with satisfaction that the General Assembly had approved the establishment of five additional international posts requested in the 2002-2003 budget. It noted that the sum of $5.1 million was still outstanding with respect to the expenses incurred by the Agency on account of the shifting of its headquarters from Vienna to Gaza, in accordance with the instructions of United Nations Headquarters. The Commission requests you to pursue the matter with United Nations Headquarters for the reimbursement of the amount as soon as possible.
The Commission noted with appreciation that the Agency had submitted two reports to its major donors describing the various reforms it had undertaken to improve its management and programme practices and processes. It noted that the new financial and payroll systems were already functioning and were having a positive impact on effectiveness and efficiency of its programmes. It encouraged the Agency to continue with its reform process. It expressed its wishes that those reforms reflect positively on services provided for refugees in all aspects of the Agency’s activities. It also encouraged the agency to provide a timely, thorough record of the proceedings of this and other stakeholders’ meetings, to provide a platform for action.
The Commission recognized the vital role the Agency plays in providing the refugees with essential services and in contributing to regional stability. It also underlined the need for donor countries to continue to enhance their contributions to the UNRWA budget at the current critical stage so that UNRWA can continue to fulfil its mandate until a just settlement to the refugee issue has been implemented, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions. It noted that the General Assembly had extended the mandate of the Agency up to 1 July 2005.
The Advisory Commission expressed great appreciation to the host Governments for the continuing support and services provided for Palestine refugees and also recognized the important contribution made by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the services it provides for the Palestine refugees.
The Commission expressed its warm appreciation for your personal commitment to the service of the refugees and the effective leadership you are providing to the Agency at a particularly difficult period in its history.
1. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949. The Agency became operational on 1 May 1950 with its headquarters in Beirut, and began responding to immediate humanitarian needs of about 880,000 Palestine refugees in the region. Over the past five decades, the Agency has grown into one of the largest United Nations programmes, employing over 22,000 staff members, including teachers, health workers, social workers and other service providers. The Agency operates some 900 facilities providing education, health, relief and social services, as well as a microfinance and microenterprise programme, for a growing population of refugees who now number over four million. The refugees are registered with UNRWA in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. About one third of the refugees live in camps that are administered by the governmental authorities where they are located. A number of the Agency’s installations are also located in the camps. The Agency’s services are, for the most part, rendered directly to the beneficiaries, along with services provided by the public sector of the host authorities. While the Agency’s services are funded directly from its budget, where appropriate and possible, refugees contribute to the cost of the services through co-payments, self-help schemes, voluntary efforts, participation fees and voluntary contributions.
2. The Agency’s services for the refugees include the following broad categories: elementary and preparatory education; vocational and technical training; comprehensive primary health care, including family health; assistance towards hospitalization; environmental health services in refugee camps; relief assistance to needy households; and developmental social services for women, youth and persons with disabilities. The Agency has developed a successful microfinance and microenterprise programme which assists in developing the income-generating capacity and self-reliance of the refugees. In addition to its regular programme, the Agency undertakes a range of infrastructure projects to improve the living conditions of the refugees.
3. During the reporting period, the conditions of strife in the occupied Palestinian territory continued with increasing intensity in a cycle of violence. Since February 2002, there has been a major intensification in the level of violence, characterized by a pattern that included suicide bombings and armed attacks by Palestinian militants in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, causing heavy loss of life, and a massive military offensive launched by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank against Palestinian cities, towns, villages and refugee camps, causing heavy loss of life and widespread damage to and destruction of Palestinian property and the infrastructure, including governmental institutions, residential buildings, refugee shelters, water and electricity supply systems, and sewage disposal systems. Among the buildings and equipment damaged or destroyed were UNRWA installations, such as schools, training centres, and health-care facilities. Israeli forces also took over a number of UNRWA schools and used them as bases and centres for detention and interrogation of Palestinians.
4. By mid-April, the Israeli forces had made partial withdrawals from some of the Palestinian cities and refugee camps, but that was followed by a number of incursions of shorter duration into the same areas. The pattern of attacks by Palestinian militants in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory also continued. By the end of the reporting period, the Israeli authorities had announced that their forces would enter Palestinian controlled areas (area A) and maintain an extended presence there for as long as it was operationally necessary. Thus, Israeli armoured forces entered seven of the major Palestinian cities in the West Bank, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilia, Ramallah and Tulkarem, and had effectively reoccupied them at the end of the reporting period. In those cities, they imposed curfews, carried out searches and detained and arrested large numbers of Palestinians. A number of Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in the operations.
5. The large-scale military operations carried out by Israeli forces in the West Bank, which included the imposition of curfews and closures and the creation of closed military zones, had an adverse impact on the Agency’s ability to carry out its humanitarian functions in support of the Palestine refugees. Movement of humanitarian goods, particularly in places where supplies of food, medicines, blood and other items were urgently needed, was often blocked, delayed or made very difficult. In a number of instances, UNRWA vehicles and staff had to face life-threatening situations as they came under fire from Israeli forces. In one instance, an area staff member was killed while travelling in a clearly marked Agency ambulance which had moved wounded persons to a hospital. In another case, an area staff member died while in the custody of the Israel Defense Forces. In other instances, staff members were beaten, injured and humiliated by Israeli soldiers.
6. In the Gaza Strip, the external closures imposed on the area and the internal closures that effectively bisected or trisected the Strip for significant periods of time led to severe disruption in the delivery of UNRWA humanitarian supplies to its distribution centres and other installations. At the same time, the Agency’s staff working at the headquarters and the field office in Gaza City could not reach their work places from cities and refugee camps in the centre and the south of the Strip.
7. The severe economic downturn that the Palestinian economy in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had been experiencing since September 2000 intensified during the reporting period. Labour flows virtually ground to a halt as closures and other measures continued to keep large numbers of Palestinians unemployed. According to a World Bank report published in March 2002,1 75,000 to 80,000 Palestinians have lost their jobs in Israel and the Israeli settlements, and another 60,000 jobs have been lost inside the Palestinian areas since September 2000 as demand collapsed and businesses were forced to lay off workers. With more than 100,000 joining the working-age population since September 2000, unemployment grew from 10 per cent then, to 26 per cent by the end of December 2001.
8. The effect of large-scale unemployment has been to aggravate the severe economic decline in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2001, per capita real income declined by 19 per cent, following a 12 per cent decline in the last quarter of 2000. More than 50 per cent of the Palestinian population has been pushed below the poverty line of $2 per day. The downward trend continued and accelerated further as the Palestinian population centres in the West Bank suffered the impact of Israeli military operations in March and April, including reoccupation at the end of the reporting period.
9. The World Bank had estimated that the physical damage from the conflict had reached a figure of about $305 million by December 2001. However, the Israeli military operations in the West Bank in the period from March to May 2002 alone were estimated to have caused an additional $342 million worth of physical and institutional damage. Earlier estimates of the effects of a harsher closure scenario by the World Bank had estimated unemployment in the Palestinian work force to rise to 36 per cent from 26 per cent in 2001, poverty to 62 per cent and the GDP to fall from $4.09 billion in 2001 to $3.71 billion at current prices in 2002. The harsher closures could lead to “gradual fragmentation and dissolution of the normal civil governance, capital flight and a reversion from modern business activity into barter trade and subsistence farming”, according to the World Bank report.2 The scale of Israeli military operations in the West Bank and the damage to private and government property, institutions and infrastructure have already brought the more pessimistic scenario into effect, and the continuation of those operations implies a further decline in the economy and in civic services to the Palestinian population, including the refugees.
10. All these developments have had a very adverse impact on the living conditions of the refugees. As described in the report of the Commissioner-General for 2000-20013 UNRWA had initiated an emergency assistance programme for refugees affected by the strife in October 2000. Appeals for assistance from the international community were launched in October and November 2000 and in March and May 2001. The latter appeal, covering the period June to December 2001 was for $76.8 million. That was followed by an appeal for the whole of 2002 amounting to $117 million. In preparing its appeals, the Agency took advantage of coordination mechanisms such as the Humanitarian Task Force for Emergency Needs and area task forces established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which bring together United Nations agencies, Palestinian Authority ministries, donor representatives, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
11. The international community’s response to the emergency programme in 2000 and 2001 was prompt and generous and against appeals for $160 million a total of $133 million was received or pledged. The response to the appeal for 2002 has been slower and by the end of the reporting period a total of $53.5 million had been received or pledged. The emergency assistance programme has focused on effectively alleviating the adverse impact of the economic downturn and the cycle of violence on the refugees. Resources have therefore been devoted to employment generation, food aid, relief and social assistance, shelter repair and reconstruction, health assistance, including physiotherapy for the injured and disabled, and emergency educational programmes for children whose schooling was interrupted by the conflict.
12. The Agency’s estimates for the emergency programme for 2002 were based on the experience of the past year. However, the major escalation in the level of damage and destruction since March 2002 has created a situation where humanitarian conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have deteriorated to levels unprecedented in decades. The Agency was therefore compelled to take urgent measures to provide immediate relief and also to prepare a plan to meet long-term needs. It was estimated that in the West Bank, 2,629 shelters housing 13,145 refugees sustained damage during the Israeli operations in March 2002. In April, in the Jenin refugee camp alone, some 400 families were rendered homeless, and repairs were needed for some 1,100 shelters. In the Balata, Dheisheh and Tulkarem camps, 120 shelters needed repairs. In addition, camp infrastructure including roads, water pipes, electricity lines and sewage systems were severely damaged in the course of the Israeli military operations.
13. Apart from the need for repair and reconstruction, the immediate increase in the number of homeless, almost destitute and traumatized refugees placed a major new burden on the Agency’s resources. It became necessary to take measures to expand the existing emergency programmes providing food assistance, health care for the injured and disabled, emergency education programmes and programmes for relief and social assistance. The Agency estimated that the supplementary measures, over and above the emergency programme for 2002, would require funding at the level of $55.7 million. A supplementary appeal to that effect was issued by the end of the reporting period. The Agency continues to monitor the situation and will review it in the light of further developments.
14. During the reporting period, there were some encouraging developments with respect to the Agency’s regular cash budget. By the closing quarter of 2001, the level of donor contributions to the budget had improved to the point where total contributions had reached $282.4 million against an expenditure of $267.4 million. This enabled the Agency to have a positive working capital of $8.5 million at end December 2001. The General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session reviewed and approved the Agency’s budget submission for the 2002-2003 biennium at the level of $674.82 million, including working capital reserves at $14 million and a salary reserve at $15 million. Donor pledges for the budget for 2002 amounted to $263.9 million by the end of the reporting period. That leaves a gap of $37.9 million which it is hoped will be covered in the remaining months of the year. Otherwise, the Agency will once again find itself in a very difficult financial situation at a time when its services are ever more vital.
15. While the improvement in the level of contributions to the Agency’s regular budget is a positive development, it covers levels of expenditure that are minimal in relation to refugee needs. For instance, in the area of education, the Agency’s largest programme, 74 per cent of schools operate on a double-shift basis owing to a shortage of school buildings. In the Jordan field, where the largest number of refugees reside, 93 per cent of schools operate in double shifts. In local government schools, the situation is the reverse, with 90 per cent being in single-shift operation. Classroom occupancy rates continue to average at 43.5 pupils per class, and in some fields this figure rises to 50 per class. Teacher salaries are at levels where the Agency is experiencing difficulties in recruiting and retaining the best qualified and most talented staff. For the immediate future, the Agency is compelled to plan on the basis of double shifts in its schools. The emphasis is on obviating the need to resort to triple shifts in schools, which would have adverse effects on the quality of education by reducing teaching time, eliminating extracurricular activities and, at the same time, raising maintenance costs. Similarly in the field of health, increasing pressures were felt as health staff had to cope with rising numbers of patients. On average, medical consultations in the Agency’s health centres exceeded 100 per day per doctor. An increasing refugee population has also meant higher numbers of special hardship cases requiring relief. The Agency’s relief and social services staff has had to deal with 229,404 special hardship cases in the reporting period, compared with 217,388 in the preceding year. These pressures have increased substantially as a result of the conditions of strife in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
16. The Agency is thus confronted with major challenges in regard to the maintenance and quality of the institutions that it has developed in order to provide its refugee services. The financial situation requires concerted steps by donor countries to maintain at least last year’s improvement in the rate of growth of contributions so that the structural deficits in the Agency’s budget can be eliminated and a sound basis can be found for its future financial viability. Those steps would bring an end to the end-of-financial-year crises that the Agency has had to cope with in recent years. The preservation and further strengthening of the Agency’s recognized capacity to deal with humanitarian emergencies is essential if the refugees are to be provided with adequate services. This capacity will wither away in the absence of the required financial resources.
17. Despite the aforementioned strains on the institutional capacity of the Agency to deliver its main services, it still had a record of an effective performance in the fields in which it provided services for the refugees. Thus, in the field of education, the Agency’s schools continued to lead in annual examinations set by the host authorities in the Agency’s fields of operations. The Agency’s school system continued to enjoy gender parity and, in some fields, girl students outnumbered boys. The graduates of the Agency’s vocational and training centres were in demand in the job market. The Agency’s surveys indicated around 80 per cent of such graduates found employment in a regular year. During the reporting period, the situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had an adverse effect on the recruitment of such graduates, though a precise figure could not be determined. The health standards of Palestine refugees were among the highest in the region and the epidemiological profile of the refugees resembled that of populations in transition from a developing to a developed stage.
18. In addition to its traditional services, the Agency introduced over the years an income generation programme on two levels. One was in the overall context of its relief and social services, and the other was as a commercial, self-sustaining and market-oriented microfinance service, which has been renamed as the microfinance and microenterprise programme. In the current reporting period, the programme provided 8,523 loans worth $6.51 million for Palestinian-owned enterprises. Women entrepreneurs received 38 per cent of the loans. This award-winning programme of the Agency has come under great strain owing to the severe decline in economic conditions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since October 2000. The further intensification of that economic decline resulted in the programme’s inability to maintain self-sufficiency at end-December 2001. By June 2002, the lending outreach had declined to 923 loans valued at $655,276 compared with 1,304 loans amounting to $1.46 million in September 2000. Following the successful introduction of the programme in the West Bank, and despite current difficulties, the Agency initiated steps to introduce the programme in the Jordan and Syrian Arab Republic fields.
19. The external environment in which the Agency has had to carry out its operations deteriorated markedly during the reporting period, especially in the closing months. That created a large number of constraints on the Agency’ s ability to deliver its services. Closures and checkpoint delays prevented schools from operating normally as large numbers of teachers and students could not reach their schools or return to their homes. Office workers, doctors and nurses could not reach their health centres and clinics, trucks carrying humanitarian supplies could not reach their destinations in time, ambulances were delayed or prevented from moving patients needing urgent treatment, UNRWA school buildings were taken over by Israeli forces and used as bases and detention centres, large numbers of students and teaching staff were detained and then released, Agency vehicles were fired on, staff members were killed, injured, beaten up or humiliated by Israeli soldiers. In all such incidents, the Agency protested to or informed the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israel Defense Forces. It reminded them of their obligations under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the 1967 bilateral Comay-Michelmore Agreement between the Agency and the Government of Israel as well as international norms on the issue of humanitarian access (see chap. IV). There were also a few occasions when Palestinian militants entered UNRWA premises. The Agency took immediate steps to effect their removal from the installations and protested to the Palestinian Authority, asking it to ensure that such incidents were not repeated.
20. In order to facilitate the Agency’s activities under its emergency programme, an Operational Support Officers programme was introduced during the previous reporting period. During the current reporting period, the programme worked very effectively in the West Bank, particularly when there was an urgent need for the movement of humanitarian supplies in the second quarter of 2002. The Agency was considering plans for the further expansion of the programme, with a view to covering the Gaza Strip.
21. The Agency continued to strengthen its communications and information capacity within the limited resources available to it. A new communications strategy was introduced, aimed at improving outreach to stakeholders in the Agency, who include the Palestine refugees, the host countries and the international community, particularly the major donor countries. Efforts to improve coordination among the information units located in the headquarters in Gaza and the units in the five fields continued, with improvements in exchange and sharing of information and in speed of response to media comment in the region. The UNRWA web site continued to improve both in its English and Arabic versions. A new page entitled “Myths and facts” was included in the web site to correct misstatements of facts about the Agency’s mandate and activities appearing in some newspapers. In the same context, coordination with the Department of Public Information was strengthened. The Agency also provided opportunities for its information staff to receive specialized media training in workshops organized by a private sector organization. Future plans for the Agency’s public information unit include improvements in its audio-visual capacity and in translation and interpretation services.
22. While the Agency’s financial constraints have tended to necessitate attention to short-term priorities, the Agency has nevertheless persisted with its long-term reform programme. Since its inception, UNRWA has continuously adapted to the rapidly changing political environment in the region as it catered to the needs of Palestine refugees. As part of its organizational and operational evolution, the Agency moved from the early emergency and relief operations to the more comprehensive human resource development programme. The current phase of the reform process may be traced back to 1996. It focuses on improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of the Agency’s resources, the development of an open management culture, the strengthening of its strategic planning capabilities, expansion and improvement in the Agency’s relations with donor countries, host countries and the agencies and programmes of the United Nations system, and increased responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency’s operations in providing services for the refugees against the background of changing socio-political conditions.
23. The Agency’s internal management reforms during the reporting period have focused on improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of its resource management. An important project is the introduction of a new finance, payroll and human resources system. This has been made possible by donor-funded extrabudgetary assistance. The new financial system, which is now almost fully functional, is expected to improve financial control and help attain a higher level of accountability and transparency in all field operations. The new payroll system will minimize manual payroll processing (reducing paperwork, time spent and personnel costs), increase online accessibility of information through an electronic database, and remove payroll anomalies by simplifying the system. As a result of the introduction of the new system, the Vienna payroll office has been closed, further reducing costs. The new system will also integrate human resource-focused reforms, such as training and career development planning with an employee database. The Agency plans to move on to the introduction of a new procurement system which will complete the last phase in this reform process. Staff training programmes for the new systems are also being strengthened.
24. The Agency’s reforms with respect to the presentation and format of its budget were initiated when the 2000-2001 budget was presented to the General Assembly. The new format was programme-based and results-oriented and specified the objectives, targets and accomplishments of each substantive Agency programme. UNRWA has sought to continue improving the formulation of its budget for the 2002-2003 biennium. Thus, a mid-term review has revealed the need for further training on performance evaluation to produce an analysis going beyond expenditures. Furthermore, key performance indicators have been introduced to enable all departments to monitor their programmes and to undertake a substantial review of budget goals.
25. The Agency enhanced the role of its Audit Office by upgrading it to an Audit and Inspection Department in the reporting period. The Director of the new department was appointed Secretary of the Audit Committee chaired by the Deputy Commissioner-General. The new department will implement, among other things, a new policy on treatment of allegations and complaints and will recruit additional audit staff, and help increase awareness of and responsiveness to audit recommendations.
26. Administration and human resources reforms included progress in shortening the lengthy procedures for recruitment, and in the current critical situation in the area, greater use of short-term contracts to speed recruitment and save administrative and personnel costs. Streamlining of Area Staff allowances is in hand and is expected to contribute to the improvement of staff morale. It should ease the task of administration of allowances, thereby reducing processing time and costs.
27. The reform process in major UNRWA programmes is not limited to administration and management. In the field of education, a five-year development plan has been initiated. It has been developed with the assistance of consultancies funded with donor assistance. A computer information technology initiative, encompassing new facilities, courses and staff training in technology, managerial skills and teaching methods at UNRWA schools and training centres has helped upgrade technical training and management practices at the eight vocational training centres. A donor-funded project on tolerance, conflict resolution and basic human rights was started in June 2000. This has led to the development and distribution of supplementary curriculum materials in UNRWA schools to promote the objectives of the programme. The Agency’s schools follow the curricula established by the host authorities in each of its five fields of operations under agreements signed with them in 1953. An education management information system involving a database to assist planners and decision makers to use and analyse statistical information from the education programme has been introduced.
28. In the health programme, the focus is on improving quality of care and increasing productivity by developing technical guidelines and standard management protocols, and promotion of in-service training to improve staff performance. In addition, steps have been taken to enhance institutional capacity-building in epidemiology and reproductive health, adoption of a total quality management approach and utilization of appropriate information technology. These activities have been undertaken in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America. Assistance is also being sought from the World Health Organization, especially in the area of surveillance and management of non-communicable diseases, whose incidence is on the rise owing to changes in lifestyle and increases in life expectancy. Two health education programmes, on the prevention of tobacco use and the prevention of HIV/AIDS, introduced in earlier years were developed into self-learning material and implemented as multidisciplinary activities targeting adolescents and schoolchildren.
29. In the relief and social services programme, the stress is on a community development approach. To this end, relief service instructions have been revised and staff members have been trained in their use. A software package for a “field social study” system to track and computerize the records of special hardship cases has been developed. A paymaster system in all fields to ensure simultaneous receipt of food and cash assistance has been finalized. Moreover, almost all community-based organizations have been handed over to local communities to promote self-help. The Agency continued to make steady progress in improving its computerized unified registration system. Its field registration and field social study systems enabled it to keep track of the registration records of about four million refugees and the socio-economic records of 65,730 special hardship cases. It was recognized, however, that a new integrated refugee registration information system should be developed and introduced. Such a new system would also facilitate the digital scanning and preservation of the more than 16 million historical family files.
30. The Agency has sought to improve planning and analysis capacity at headquarters by strengthening its Policy Analysis Unit. The focus is on responsive analyses of the developing political situation affecting the refugees and the operations of the Agency, particularly in the current difficult circumstances. This involves data collection and generation, long-term strategic planning, analytical reporting and periodic assessments of the situation. These socio-economic and political analyses have gained in quality as the in-house capacities of the Unit’s staff have been improved, and this has been of great assistance in policy formulation. The Unit has been encouraged to further develop its analytical grasp of all the issues involved in the complex environment in which the Agency operates, in order to enable management to respond quickly and effectively to changing needs and demands as the situation evolves.
31. The Agency’s operations have been sustained over the past five decades with the generous assistance of its major donor countries, as well as its host countries. Over the reporting period, the Agency has continued to receive the strong support of the Governments of Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. The Agency also received support from the Palestinian Authority in conducting its operations. Chapters V to IX of the present report provide detailed information on how the Agency has been carrying out its mandate in its five fields.
32. The living conditions of the refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory have been severely affected by the violence and the Israeli closures, destruction of institutional property and other measures against the Palestinian Authority and the population. The impact of these measures and the Agency’s response have been described in the earlier paragraphs and in chapter IV.
33. The largest number of Palestine refugees reside in Jordan. The majority of them enjoy full Jordanian citizenship and are able to serve in government offices and have access to governmental institutions and developmental and other assistance. The Government of Jordan has reported expenditures amounting to $402,972,535 on behalf of Palestine refugees and displaced persons during the reporting period. This covers services such as education, rent and utilities, subsidies and rations, camp services, health care, public security and social services. The Agency’s regular budget allocation for the Jordan field was $71.1 million in 2002 compared with $71.6 million in 2001.
34. Palestine refugees in Lebanon are among the most disadvantaged. They have only limited access to government services and have to depend almost entirely on the Agency for basic education, health and relief and social services. Lebanese authorities continued to prohibit construction in certain refugee camps, and in others entry of construction materials continued to be subject to military approval, which was not always granted. Palestine refugees in Lebanon suffer from poor living and housing conditions, restrictions on mobility and high rates of unemployment. The UNRWA regular budget allocation for Lebanon field was $48.2 million in 2002 compared with $44.3 million in 2001.
35. Palestine refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic continued to have full access to government services. The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic reported expenditures of $86,774,833 million on behalf of the refugees during the reporting period. These covered education, health, housing, utilities, security, supply costs and social services. The Agency’s budget allocation for the Syrian field was $26.2 million in 2002 compared with $22.0 million in 2001.
36. UNRWA maintained close cooperation with a number of United Nations agencies, including the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 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). The Agency also cooperated with local and international non-governmental organizations in its five fields of operation. In order to fulfil the responsibilities of the Commissioner-General as the United Nations Designated Official for the overall security and protection of United Nations staff and family members in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, UNRWA maintained contacts with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). UNRWA also continued to participate in the multilateral aid coordination structures for the occupied Palestinian territory, facilitated by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority.
37. UNRWA entered the fifty-second year of its operations in 2002. By its resolution 56/52 of 10 December 2001, the General Assembly renewed the Agency’s mandate for another three years. The Agency has, over the decades, become the symbol of the international community’s commitment to the well-being of the Palestine refugees until a just and durable settlement of the refugee problem is achieved. Maintaining the quality and extent of the Agency’s services is essential to the international community’s interest in terms of its humanitarian commitment and its desire to promote regional stability.
General developments in Agency programmes
38. Objectives. The Agency’s education programme has aimed to provide Palestine refugees with the necessary basic knowledge and skills needed to become productive members of their communities, in accordance with their identity and cultural heritage. It has sought to foster awareness among Palestine refugees of the need for interdependence and tolerance towards differences among individuals and groups, and to prepare them for the multifaceted challenges and uncertainties of a rapidly changing world and to compete successfully at higher levels of education and in the job market. The Agency’s Department of Education aims to fulfil this mission through its four main programmes: general education; teacher education; vocational and technical education; and education planning and management.
39. Elementary and preparatory schooling. The basic education programme of UNRWA consists of a six-year elementary cycle and a three-year or four-year preparatory cycle, depending on the educational systems of the host authorities. A total of 483,651 pupils in the 2001/02 academic year were accommodated in 639 UNRWA schools in the five fields of operation. Total enrolment increased by 1.88 per cent, or 8,909 pupils, over the 2000/01 academic year. That growth was not evenly distributed, however. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued to have rapid growth of 5 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively. Lebanon had growth of 1.1 per cent, the Syrian Arab Republic registered marginal growth of 0.45 per cent, and Jordan registered a negative growth of 1.1 per cent. The principal reason for the increase in enrolment is the natural growth in the refugee population, though other factors are also important, including the movement of Palestinian families within the Agency’s areas of operation, particularly from Jordan to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; the transfer of refugee pupils from Agency schools to government schools (Jordan); and the transfer of refugee pupils from tuition-based private schools to Agency schools (Lebanon). The Jordan and Gaza fields each accounted for approximately one third of total Agency pupil enrolment, while the other three fields together accounted for the remaining third. The UNRWA school system continued to maintain full gender parity, with 50.1 per cent of pupils being female. Under existing exchange agreements between UNRWA and the host authorities to provide schooling for pupils in remote areas, 190,030 refugee pupils reportedly enrolled at government and private schools at the elementary and preparatory levels. Some 48,594 non-refugee pupils attended UNRWA schools at the elementary and preparatory levels.
40. Secondary schooling. UNRWA offered secondary-level education on a limited scale in the Lebanon field in order to address the issue of low access of Palestine refugees to government schools, and because of the prohibitively high cost of private schools. The five secondary schools in the Burj El-Barajneh, Ein El-Hilweh, Rashidieh, Baddawi and Wavel camps accommodated a total of 2,375 pupils during the 2001/02 academic year. According to Agency estimates, 69,693 refugee students in all fields were studying at government and private secondary schools.
41. Education infrastructure. The combination of increasing enrolment, the need to accommodate new pupils and the drive towards improving the learning environment has created a continuous demands to maintain and upgrade the education infrastructure of UNRWA. Despite significant results accomplished during the reporting period, enrolment growth exceeded the capacity of Agency schools. Between the 1993/94 and 2001/02 academic years, the number of school buildings increased by 0.97 per cent and the number of schools increased by 0.63 per cent, whereas the total enrolment increased by 21.9 per cent. Overcrowding within the Agency’s education system continued, with the average classroom occupancy rate at 42.9 pupils in the 2001/02 academic year. Occupancy was highest in the Gaza Strip at 48.5 pupils per classroom and lowest in Lebanon at 37.4. Since many UNRWA schools were constructed in the 1960s, they have become dilapidated, a problem exacerbated by the lack of sufficient maintenance funds. The Agency sought to address the shortcomings by obtaining project funding for the improvement and expansion of its education infrastructure. The number of UNRWA schools increased from 639 in 2000/01 to 644 in 2001/02. Newly constructed schools were larger and had adequate classroom sizes, science laboratories, libraries, computer laboratories and playgrounds. The newly constructed schools helped to reduce running costs and to provide a better educational environment. During the reporting period, the Agency completed the construction of eight school buildings, 80 additional classrooms (to avoid triple shifting and to replace unsafe/dilapidated classrooms), nine rooms equipped for specialized activities, three water tanks and three canteens. A total of 11 school buildings, 127 classrooms and 21 specialized rooms are under construction.
42. Double shifting. As enrolment exceeded the capacity of the existing school infrastructure and construction could not keep pace with new pupils owing to the Agency’s financial constraints, UNRWA had to resort to operating schools on a double-shift basis, i.e., housing two separately administered schools in a single building. UNRWA had hoped to reduce the number of schools operating on a double-shift basis. Despite the expanded programme of school construction since 1993 under the Peace Implementation Programme, there was no significant improvement in the rate of double shifting between the 1992/93 academic year (75 per cent) and the 2001/02 academic year (75.8 per cent). The education department is continuing with its policy of considering double shifting as a major planning assumption for budgetary purposes so as to avoid triple shifting. The latter would reduce teaching time, exclude extra-curricular activities and increase maintenance costs.
43. Rented schools. In the past, the Agency had rented premises to house some of its schools, mostly outside refugee camps. Such rented buildings generally lacked adequate classroom space, proper lighting and ventilation and space for other curricular and extra-curricular facilities. The situation resulted in cramped conditions for pupils and staff and also increased costs by limiting the number of pupils that could be accommodated in each classroom. In the 2001/02 academic year, the classroom occupancy rate at rented schools averaged 29.35 compared with 45.08 at Agency-built schools. UNRWA had aimed to replace all rented school premises with Agency-built schools, subject to the availability of project funding and appropriate plots of land. Through project funding, the Agency managed to reduce the number of rented premises from 94 in the 1993/94 academic year to 78 in 2001/02, a 17 per cent drop. Those 78 rented premises housed 111 schools, with the Lebanon and Jordan fields having the largest numbers of such schools.
44. Education reform by host authorities. The Agency’s education programme continued to adhere to the education systems of the host authorities, necessitating the introduction of changes in UNRWA school curricula when such changes were made in host authority schools. The extension of the basic education cycle in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from nine to ten years was the most significant change, which the Agency could not carry out owing to financial constraints. The Palestinian Authority, however, accommodated the tenth grade students in its schools. A new Palestinian curriculum was introduced for the first and sixth grades in 2000/01, and for the second and seventh grades in 2001/02 to replace the Jordanian curriculum in the West Bank and the Egyptian curriculum in the Gaza Strip. In the Syrian Arab Republic, a new study plan, new curricula and textbooks for the elementary and preparatory cycles were gradually introduced. The new format for the fifth elementary grade was fully implemented in UNRWA schools in 2001/02 while the new format for the sixth elementary grade was implemented in selected UNRWA and government schools. In Lebanon, a new education system, new curricula and textbooks for elementary, preparatory and secondary cycles were introduced in 1998/99. New textbooks were supplied to Agency schools, and teachers were trained in the curricular changes. In Jordan, computer science was introduced in the preparatory cycle in the eighth, ninth and tenth grades. UNRWA introduced computer science only in the tenth grade, owing to budget constraints. In addition, English language instruction was introduced in Jordan in the first and second grades in the 2000/01 academic year, and the new curriculum was implemented in the first and second grades in Agency schools. In 2001/02, English language instruction was introduced in the third and fourth grades and the new curriculum was implemented in the third and fourth grades in Agency schools.
45. Remedial and special education. The Agency’s remedial and special education services are geared towards maintaining achievement levels and enabling slow-learning students and pupils with learning difficulties to benefit fully from the Agency’s basic education services. Such measures for pupils included remedial classes, voluntary extra class periods, audio-visual programmes, curriculum enrichment materials and self-learning kits. In the 2001/02 academic year, those activities benefited 650 slow learners, 2,532 pupils classified as remedial cases, 6 blind children, 81 deaf children and 267 handicapped. In the absence of sustained project funding for special education, the Agency explored ways to provide assistance for all children with learning difficulties at no additional cost by utilizing the Agency’s available resources and expertise.
46. School councils. School councils were in operation in all Agency schools, with each council consisting of 10 members: the head teacher (chairperson), three teachers, three members selected from the local community and three students. The councils helped maintain cooperation between the school and the local community.
47. Vocational and technical training. The total number of training places in the eight UNRWA vocational and technical training centres in the five fields of operation was 4,891 in the 2001/02 academic year, an increase of 187 as compared with the previous year. At the post-preparatory level, 22 two-year vocational training courses were offered and, at the post-secondary level, 30 two-year technical/semi-professional courses were offered to trainees in a variety of technical, paramedical and commercial subjects. Women accounted for 64.19 per cent of all trainees enrolled in technical/semi-professional courses in 2001/02. Courses varied from centre to centre, according to the needs of local labour markets and the availability of training opportunities at other institutions. Owing to financial constraints, the Agency was unable to introduce new courses or expand the capacity of the existing ones except by deleting old courses. Apart from the two-year training courses, Agency training centres in Jordan, the West Bank, the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip offered short-term training courses of up to 24 weeks’ duration, organized on an ad hoc basis in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations or the Palestinian Authority. During the 2001/02 academic year, 950 trainees were enrolled in 50 such courses offering training in a wide variety of disciplines. The Agency’s surveys indicated that 76.3 per cent of the graduates of its training centres in 2000 were employed by 2001. The establishment of computer centres at all training centres was completed with project funding. Furthermore, one Cisco regional academy was established at the Wadi Seer training centre and a nother five local academies were established at the Gaza training centre, the Ramallah men’s training centre, the Ramallah women’s training centre, the Damascus training centre and the Siblin training centre.
48. Training courses. The eight UNRWA training centres offered 22 trade courses and 30 technical/semi-professional courses. In order to make the technical and vocational education and training subprogrammes more relevant and responsive to labour market demands and to strengthen links with industry and employing agencies, the UNRWA advisory team, consultative committees and field service units developed and updated the technical and vocational education and training department programmes according to the latest technological developments.
49. Educational science faculties. The three branches of the educational science faculties in Jordan and the West Bank continued to provide pre-service training leading to a first-level university degree, as part of a process of upgrading the qualifications of Agency teaching staff to meet the revised standards set by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The four-year pre-service programme that grants university-level degrees was offered to 1,173 secondary school graduates, including 840 women. During the reporting period, 152 students graduated from the pre-service programme and 197 from the in-service programme which was offered at the Amman training centre to upgrade the qualifications of UNRWA teachers holding two-year teacher training diplomas to the first university-degree level. Of the 198 pre-service graduates in 1999/00, from the three educational science faculties, 91 were recruited by the Agency in 2000/01. In addition, 51 trainees graduated in 2000/01 from the Siblin training centre and all of them were recruited by the Agency in 2001/02.
50. Institute of education. UNRWA provided in-service training through the UNRWA/UNESCO Institute of Education to promote and improve the professional competencies of Agency teachers, head teachers and school supervisors. The training was implemented in cooperation with the five education development centres. In 2001/02, the total number of teachers, head teachers and school supervisors enrolled in the in-service training in the five fields was 1,048, of whom 648 were taking courses lasting from one to two years, while the remaining 400 trainees were new teachers appointed according to the UNRWA area staff rules or converted from contract teachers. Activities related to in-service training included planning, organizing and preparing training programmes and instructional materials.
51. University scholarships. Budgetary constraints have forced the Agency to discontinue its contribution from the general budget to the Agency’s scholarship subprogramme since 1997/98. However, the Agency continued, with project funding, to support some scholars until they graduated. In 2000/01, 227 scholars graduated and 7 failed their studies; the number of continuing scholars was 197, of whom 107 were women. At the close of the reporting period, scholars were studying in 23 universities in nine countries in the Middle East. The main areas of study pursued by scholarship recipients were engineering (20 per cent), medicine (57 per cent), pharmacy (14 per cent) and dentistry (9 per cent). The scholarship awards ranged in value from $200 to $1,000 per year, depending on university tuition rates.
52. Placement and career guidance. The Agency offered placement and career guidance services to Palestine refugee graduates of Agency training centres and other educational institutions to facilitate their employment. Such counselling services were offered to pupils in the Agency’s preparatory schools and government secondary schools to familiarize them with the training courses available at the Agency’s training centres. The Agency continued to follow up on the employment histories of its graduates and their career performance after the initial period of employment. Of the 2,374 graduates from UNRWA vocational training centres in 1999/2000, 1,811 or 76.3 per cent, were employed in 2001. The Agency’s placement and career guidance office facilitated the work of employers’ recruiting teams, helped match candidates with vacancies and made candidates aware of available job opportunities. UNRWA also carried out periodic surveys of market demand in order to achieve a better match between training courses and job requirements.
53. Programme budget and administration. The education programme remained the largest single area of activity in the Agency, with 16,993 education staff (including teaching and administrative staff), representing 75.5 per cent of all Agency staff, while the programme budget of $172,255,000 for 2002 amounted to 53.7 per cent of the total Agency budget. Actual cash expenditure for 2001 was $161.7 million, representing 60.5 per cent of total Agency expenditure. In all fields except Gaza, nominal contributions at prescribed rates were collected from pupils and trainees on a voluntary basis to improve facilities and equipment in schools and training centres. Overall contributions collected in 2001/02 amounted to $740,192. Other forms of community support for the education programme included donations of equipment, furniture, photocopiers, tape recorders, videos, overhead projectors, personal computers, printers and other equipment and supplies.
54. Special projects. The Computer Information Technology Initiative (CITI) for vocational training centres continued successfully and resulted in the upgrading of the technical training and management practices at the eight UNRWA vocational training centres. During the reporting period, activities focused on expanding computer-training opportunities at all training centres. Under phase III of the Computer Information Technology Initiative project, five vocational training centres (the Gaza training centre, the Ramallah men’s training centre, the Ramallah women’s training centre, the Damascus training centre and the Siblin training centre) signed up as Cisco local academies implementing the Cisco Networking Academy Programme, while the Wadi Seer Training Centre became a Cisco regional academy to support the local ones. Currently UNRWA has certified 17 instructors in the first and second semesters of the Cisco Networking Academy Programme. In full coordination and cooperation with donors and the senior education staff at both the headquarters and the five fields, a five-year development plan (2000-2004) was completed covering the areas of educational planning, staff and management development, vocational and technical education, education management information system, personnel and finance. Within the framework of the plan, a project was proposed to provide an extensive range of support for the further development of management at all levels within the UNRWA education service and to enable schools to become foci for development.
55. Teaching tolerance and conflict resolution. In December 1999, the Agency began a project with donor funding aimed at further strengthening and supporting UNRWA efforts to supplement existing curricular materials and to promote concepts and principles of basic human rights, to raise awareness of the importance of tolerance and to train Palestine refugee children and youth in non-violent means of conflict resolution, including the promotion of peer mediation techniques in the West Bank and Gaza fields. The objective of that programme was to inculcate a new spirit of cross-cultural understanding among communities with different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds and to equip teaching staff with an appropriate understanding of the societal benefits of such intervention. The programme stressed the relevance of such universally shared norms to the objectives of the United Nations and to the prevailing conflicts in the region. Enrichment materials for social and cultural studies and Arabic language curricula were prepared. In addition, the related teachers’ manual and the students’ workbook were prepared in draft form. Six children’s stories addressing human rights issues were distributed to all schools in the West Bank and Gaza fields. Training programmes for staff in those two fields were prepared.
56. Impact of funding shortfalls. Funding shortfalls directly impacted on the programme’s ability to expand at a rate commensurate with growth in the beneficiary population, resulting in reduced teacher/pupil interaction, higher workloads for teaching and supervisory staff, and difficulties in hiring qualified teachers at the new salary scales. Financial constraints also limited the Agency’s attempt to keep up with educational reforms introduced by host authorities, which would widen the gap between the education systems of UNRWA and the host authorities and undermine ongoing harmonization efforts. Other funding shortfalls affecting the education programme included the reduction in maintenance allocations and cuts in allocations for vocational training equipment and supplies.
57. Cooperation with the host authorities. The UNRWA basic education programme continued to follow the host authorities’ education systems. Senior Agency education staff in all fields continued to participate in major educational development activities of host authorities.
58. Cooperation with UNESCO, UNICEF and the League of Arab States. The UNRWA education programme was run in cooperation with UNESCO, which has funded six senior managerial and technical posts at UNRWA, including the Director of Education. Two of the managers held international posts funded by UNESCO on a non-reimbursable loan basis, and four occupied area posts whose costs were covered by UNESCO. The 11th annual joint meeting of UNRWA and the League of Arab States Council on Education for the Children of Palestine was held in Cairo in December 2001. The Council welcomed the Agency’s efforts to provide the Palestine refugee children and youth with educational services, despite financial constraints. UNRWA participated in the thirty-first session of the General Conference of UNESCO from 16 to 19 October 2001 in Paris. In the Gaza field, and in cooperation with UNICEF, the Education Guidance and Counselling Team planned follow-up visits to students affected by the prevailing situation. In addition, in the Syrian Arab Republic, the education programme in cooperation with UNICEF conducted several courses for teachers on health education, global education and child rights. UNRWA participated in a meeting of the United Nations Inter–agency Working Group on Education for All to review the guidelines for preparation of the national plan of action on Education for All. The meeting was held in Amman in June 2001. A second meeting was held in September 2001 in Amman to acknowledge the composition of the national team on Education for All and its various subcommittees. Moreover, the Chief Institute of Education represented UNRWA at the Third Arab meeting on Education for All, which was held in Beirut in January 2002. This meeting addressed the regional mechanism for Education for All, follow-up procedures and the discussion of the Arab work plan on Education for All for 2002. In that same context, UNRWA attended an Education for All awareness seminar in April 2002 conducted by UNESCO in coordination with UNICEF.
59. Emergency compensatory education. Military operations in May 2002 continued to disrupt schooling in the West Bank, although not as seriously as in April. Of the 95 UNRWA schools in the West Bank, 39 lost a total of 152 days, and teachers’ absences totalled 7,199, an average of 288 each day. Under the emergency job creation programme, 156 supplementary teachers were recruited in the reporting period to undertake duties of those teachers who were unable to reach their workplaces. In the Agency’s three training centres, a total of 686 instructors’ days were lost. It was decided that schools would remain in session for an extra period ranging from 9 to 27 days, depending on the number of days the students lost. In addition to the 156 teachers, there were 273 supplementary staff assigned to various positions in the education programme in the West Bank. They included 33 counsellors, 88 guards, 24 labourers, 2 typists and 6 janitors. In the Gaza field, teachers in Agency schools provided compensatory education against payment of overtime allowances, during the period from January to April 2002. An intensive counselling programme was launched in schools, with some 15 local NGOs assisting the 33 counsellors the Agency had employed during the crisis. Teachers were the first to participate in the programme in order to ensure that they themselves could cope with stress and trauma and were better able to help their students. Children who had been directly exposed to violence and required individual attention were identified, and appropriate counselling programmes designed. Those sessions had a marked impact on students’ performance.
60. Objectives. The UNRWA health programme aims to protect, preserve and promote the health status of Palestine refugees and meet their basic health needs, consistent with basic WHO principles and concepts and with the standards of the public sector health services in the region. The Agency’s strategy is focused on sustaining adequate levels of investment in primary health care, improving the quality of essential services provided to Palestine refugees and aligning health policies and service standards with those of host authorities. Programme priorities during the biennium 2002-2003 continued to focus on improving primary health-care services, with special emphases on expanded maternal health and family planning services and child health and integrated disease control; bringing about cost-efficiency through the use of appropriate technology, such as mechanization of refuse collection and disposal with a view to reducing recurrent staff costs; optimal resource utilization for improved programme performance; and improving the environmental health infrastructure in camps by funding projects for, inter alia, water, sewerage and drainage networks and solid waste management.
61. Impact of the emergency situation in the occupied Palestinian territory on the health programme. The continuing situation of strife in the occupied Palestinian territory and the repeated Israeli incursions led to an increase in the demand for the Agency’s medical care services during the reporting period. Movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli forces and their denial of humanitarian access prevented or delayed emergency medical assistance to Palestine refugees, especially camp residents. Moreover, such Israeli restrictions caused shortages of medical supplies, water and electricity and affected access to medical care services. UNRWA medical personnel worked under dangerous circumstances in providing emergency health services. One UNRWA staff member was killed in an ambulance in March. During the reporting period, medical consultations increased by 29.8 per cent in the Gaza Strip and 15.7 per cent in the West Bank. As a result of the Israeli military operations and movement restrictions, the health programme recorded 2,545 staff-hours lost in the Gaza field during the first half of 20 02 and 9,934 staff-hours lost in the West Bank field during the reporting period. While UNRWA was able to maintain preventive services at pre-September 2000 levels during 2001, there has been a more severe disruption of health services since early 2002. A breakdown in the coverage and quality of maternal and child health-care services and the expanded programme on immunization and non-communicable disease treatment threatens the Agency’s sustained achievements in primary health care and could lead to an outbreak of diseases or cross-border transmission of infections in the region. A planned WHO/FAO nutritional survey in the occupied Palestinian territory in collaboration with UNRWA could not be conducted owing to the prevailing conditions.
62. Health status. The demographic and epidemiological profile of Palestine refugees today resembles the health status of many populations in transition from a developing to a developed stage and has much in common with both. Thus, the health profile of Palestine refugees contains many elements of both stages. While vaccine-preventable diseases were well under control, the prevalence of vehicle-borne and vector-borne infections was still high, and morbidity and mortality from chronic non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension, were on the increase. Fatal diseases, such as malaria, syphilis and neonatal tetanus, were eliminated long ago and no cases of poliomyelitis have been reported among refugees since 1993. It may be noted that UNRWA operates in an area of very low prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Women of reproductive age and children below 15 years of age constitute approximately 58 per cent of the population. Crude birth rates were as high as 36 per 1,000 population in the Gaza Strip, 34 in the West Bank and approximately 33 in other fields. The total fertility rate was estimated at 3.5, with the highest rate of 4.4 in the Gaza Strip. The mean marital age of women was 19.7 years Agency-wide with more than 36 per cent of refugee girls in the Gaza Strip married at or before 18 years of age. Birth intervals were generally short, with 22 per cent of women in the West Bank having birth intervals of less than 18 months. Infant mortality rates ranged from 35 to 40 per thousand live births and were far below the WHO target of 50 deaths per 1,000 live births for developing countries by the year 2000. Two thirds of infant mortalities fell within the neonatal period. Approximately 50 per cent of children below three years of age and one third of women of reproductive age still suffered from moderate to mild levels of iron-deficiency anaemia and one third of pregnant women receiving antenatal care at UNRWA clinics had one or more risk factors.
63. Primary care. The UNRWA health-care programme remained focused on comprehensive primary health care, including: the full range of maternal, child health and family planning services; school health services, health education and promotion activities; outpatient medical care services; prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and specialist care with emphasis on obstetrics and gynaecology and cardiology. These services were complemented by dental and basic support services, such as radiology and laboratory facilities (see annex I, table 6). During the reporting period, Agency outpatient facilities handled 7,060,718 medical and 537,700 dental consultations, as well as 1,197,571 million visits for nursing services, such as dressings and injections. The Agency’s primary health programme included rehabilitation of the physically disabled and the provision of essential medical supplies. The workload at UNRWA general clinics continued to be high, with an average of 106 medical consultations per doctor per day Agency-wide and, at end-December 2001, as high as 112 in the West Bank.
64. Family health. During the reporting period, UNRWA health facilities provided health care for 180,848 children below the age of three, representing 92 per cent of the registered refugee population below that age, and some 77,479 pregnant women, who accounted for 59 per cent of expected pregnancies among refugee women of reproductive age on the basis of current crude birth rates. Over 21,100 family planning acceptors were registered during the reporting period, bringing the total number of women using the Agency’s family planning services to more than 89,155. The Gaza field, which had over the years recorded a steady increase in the usage of family health services by the refugees, reported a 6 per cent decline in the number of clients during the first half of 2002 and an increase in the number of pregnant women registered for antenatal care, possibly due to the current situation. The Agency continued to implement its surveillance of maternal death to reduce maternal mortality from preventable causes. Performance indicators were developed and applied to measure progress in the coverage and quality of antenatal, post-natal and family planning services. In addition, the Agency provided intra-partum care through six maternity units integrated within its largest health centres in the Gaza Strip as well as by supporting hospital deliveries of high-risk pregnancies in all fields. Overall, 96.8 per cent of reported deliveries were attended by trained personnel and 98.5 per cent of pregnant women served by UNRWA were immunized against tetanus. As part of research to assess the effectiveness of its maternal health services, the Agency conducted studies to assess the current breastfeeding practices among women of reproductive age using UNRWA primary health-care facilities, the effectiveness of the risk scoring system in surveillance of maternal health and an in-depth analysis of reported cases of maternal mortality during the last seven years. The Agency’s field experience in providing reproductive and family health services continued to be utilized by regional and international organizations for appropriate intervention to improve standards of health care in the region. The technical guidelines and relevant record forms on provision of maternal healt h care and family planning services were revised, with special emphasis on adjustment of the risk scoring system.
65. Disease prevention and control. The Agency’s efforts in this regard included the control of vaccine-preventable diseases, other communicable diseases of public health importance, the prevention of vector- and vehicle-borne infections, the prevention of newly emerging infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, the control of re-emerging infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases associated with lifestyles, such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension (see annex I, table 7). To that end, the Agency maintained optimal immunization coverage against the vaccine-preventable diseases, participating in two rounds of national immunization campaigns for the eradication of poliomyelitis implemented during the reporting period in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic in the context of the WHO regional strategy and in close coordination with local health authorities. UNRWA immunized more than 62,000 refugee children under five during each round. The Agency reinforced its system of surveillance of communicable diseases, including vaccine-preventable diseases. Special emphasis was placed on strengthening tuberculosis surveillance and control measures, and coordinating them with those of public health authorities throughout the area of operations, based on the directly observed short-course treatment strategy. The Agency provided non-communicable disease care through all its health centres, with special focus on the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension. A total of 101,367 patients benefited from such care during the reporting period. Special attention continued to be paid to the early detection and management of micronutrient disorders, especially anaemia, which was still highly prevalent among pre-school children and women of reproductive age. For that purpose, the strategy on prevention and treatment of anaemia among pregnant and nursing mothers was revised and the specifications for iron and folic acid preparations were improved.
66. Health education. Health education activities aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and raising public awareness within the refugee community continued to be a priority for the Agency. Counselling sessions and audio-visual programmes were offered on a continuing basis for those visiting the health centres. All international health days, such as World Health Day, World No Tobacco Day and World AIDS Day, were marked with a number of activities held at Agency locations inside and outside the camps. The two health educational programmes on prevention of tobacco use and of HIV/AIDS were implemented as multidisciplinary activities targeting adolescents and schoolchildren.
67. Secondary care. UNRWA provided assistance towards secondary care for Palestine refugees through the partial reimbursement of costs incurred for treatment at government or NGO hospitals and/or through contractual agreements with NGO or private hospitals. Secondary care was also provided directly by the Agency at one facility in the West Bank, the 43-bed Qalqilya hospital. Plans for renovation and upgrading of the hospital as well as for construction of a paediatric ward and nursing dormitories were completed and additional equipment was placed in the hospital. The hospital played an important role in treating injuries in the continuing conditions of strife. The heavy casualty toll, on one hand, and Israeli restrictions on movements of the population and ambulances, on the other, affected hospital services in many respects. Refugee patients in the West Bank could not reach UNRWA contracted hospitals and had to be treated at other hospitals and be reimbursed for the cost of treatment. The system of cost-sharing broke down because of the generalized impoverishment and high unemployment rates. In addition, hospitals experienced significant shortages of medical supplies and needed assistance from the Agency. All those factors generated additional expenditure that could only be covered by special contributions under the Agency’s emergency appeals. During the reporting period, 54,158 patients benefited from UNRWA assistance and utilized 142,041 hospital days. UNRWA hospitalization arrangements continued to face funding constraints. This necessitated the continuation of stricter referral criteria, a system of co-payment and cost-efficiency measures, such as restructuring hospitalization arrangements away from private to NGO hospitals. Additional budget provisions were allocated under the 2002-2003 biennium budget in order to meet the five fields’ requirements for sustaining essential hospital services at government and/or private hospitals at the current level in order to avoid disruption of services. In the case of Lebanon, the services could only be maintained at the current level during the first part of the reporting period through extrabudgetary resources or through redeployment of funds from other programmes and fields. In order to ensure a stable and sustainable source of funding, the full hospitalization costs were integrated with the Agency’s General Fund beginning in 2002.
68. Capacity-building. The Agency continued to focus on human resource development through basic, in-service and postgraduate training. It continued to encourage postgraduate training in public health and other related disciplines at the university level. It pursued a capacity-building donor-funded programme for enhancing the skills and capabilities of health personnel at all levels, which was developed in collaboration with the WHO Collaborating Centre at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. The objectives of the programme were to assemble a core team that could further train health-care professionals to ensure sustainability by transferring the acquired knowledge and skills to other staff members; assess the appropriateness and relevance of the various programme components and enhance surveillance, monitoring and response at the service delivery level. The Agency took the necessary steps to assume responsibility for project management and development while simultaneously phasing out the involvement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It may be noted that capacity-building programmes were adversely affected as a result of the emergency situation and restrictions on movement of Agency staff in the occupied Palestinian territory.
69. Health infrastructure. UNRWA primary health-care services were provided through a network of 122 facilities located in and outside the refugee camps. With special funding primarily from project funds, UNRWA continued to repair or replace health facilities. Construction, upgrading and equipping primary health-care facilities helped to improve service standards and patient flow, with a marked impact on the quality of care. During the reporting period, works were completed/under way for replacement, expansion or renovation of four primary health-care facilities throughout the Agency’s area of operations through project funding.
70. Environmental health. Approximately 1.2 million Palestine refugees in 59 official camps in the five fields of operation, representing 32 per cent of the total registered population, benefited from environmental health services provided by UNRWA in cooperation with local municipalities. Services included sewage disposal, storm water drainage, the provision of safe drinking water, the collection and disposal of refuse and the control of insect and rodent infestation. The Agency continued to play an active role, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in the planning and implementation of large-scale projects for the construction of sewerage, drainage and water networks in camps and the upgrading of solid waste collection and disposal capacity in the Gaza Strip through mechanization. After the establishment of its special environmental health programme in the Gaza Strip in 1993, the Agency implemented projects in sewerage, storm water drainage and solid waste management in and outside the camps at a cost of $31.5 million, while projects planned for implementation, subject to availability of funds, are estimated at $11 million. In Lebanon, feasibility studies and detailed designs were completed for the rehabilitation and construction of the water and wastewater infrastructure in five refugee camps. The funding agreement with the donor, in this regard, was extended until June 2004. Capital projects were complemented by self-help camp improvement activities, such as paving pathways, to which the Agency contributed construction material and the community provided volunteer labour. In the Syrian Arab Republic, plans were under way to improve water supply systems in two refugee camps and for construction of a sewerage scheme in one camp as part of a partnership agreement between the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the European Community. A partnership and financing agreement, concluded between the European Community and the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, covers projects for the development of rural areas and two refugee camps. In that regard a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and UNRWA, which will be the implementing agency.
71. Budgetary and human resources. The proposed health budget for the biennium 2000-2001 was established at $108 million under the regular programme, representing 18.6 per cent of the Agency’s total operating budget, in addition to $29.3 million in developmental projects. Owing to funding constraints, average health expenditure per refugee during the reporting period was maintained at $13.50 per year, a fraction of the current level of expenditure by other health-care providers in the Agency’s area of operations. The largest share of the health budget, approximately 70 per cent, was allocated to medical care services comprising treatment and support services, family health, disease prevention and control activities, dental care, laboratory services, physical rehabilitation and hospitalization. The remaining budget was allocated for sustaining basic sanitation services in camps and food aid to vulnerable groups. Within the medical care services budget, the largest share, approximately 76 per cent, was allocated towards maintaining primary health care, with the remaining 24 per cent allocated towards sustaining essential hospital services. There were, however, significant variations in this ratio from one field to another owing to local circumstances, including ease of access to Agency or public health services. Approximately 63 per cent of cash allocations to the health programme were devoted to the costs of 3,500 locally recruited health staff members Agency-wide, who implemented all core programme activities. As a result of a recruitment freeze, the number of available staff continued to fall below those required to meet increasing needs, so that the workloads in Agency primary health-care facilities remained heavy. In order to ameliorate the adverse effects of such workloads on the quality of care, standard management protocols were revised, staff members were trained to define competency levels and an appointment system continued to be implemented in mother and child health-care clinics and for special care for non-communicable diseases, specialist care services and laboratory and dental services. That approach markedly improved patient flow, reduced client waiting time and increased staff/client contact time. The overall appropriations for the health programme during the 2002-2003 biennium were increased by 11 per cent mainly owing to provisions for additional staff costs, hospitalization and supplies.
72. Programme management. The Agency’s strategic approach towards improved management of the health programme continued to be focused on enhancing the process of institutional capacity-building in order to improve performance and make optimal use of scarce human and financial resources, as well as reinforcing health services research as a means to assess the appropriateness, relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the basic programme components. The Agency carried out several research projects to assess the quality of health care and to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of its various services, based on identified performance indicators. These research initiatives included studies to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices of medical personnel with respect to management of communicable and non-communicable diseases, laboratory workloads and productivity targets, progress in implementation of the directly observed short course strategy for treatment of tuberculosis, and the current breastfeeding practices. The results of those studies were used for reorienting intervention strategies and developing appropriate training programmes. In addition, the rapid assessment technique was used to monitor phenomena such as the prevalence of high-risk pregnancies or to measure service coverage such as that of the Agency’s programme for immunization. The Agency revised and updated its technical guidelines in keeping with the objectives of the health programme.
73. Cooperation with host authorities. UNRWA continued to cooperate closely with the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health. Senior UNRWA health staff members participated in all Palestinian Authority technical committees on health policy. The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health provided UNRWA with all the required vaccines for the Agency’s immunization programme. The Agency also maintained close cooperation with health ministries in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, inter alia, through the exchange of information, coordination of disease control measures and participation in national conferences and immunization campaigns. The Government of Jordan provided all the vaccines required by the Agency, including the newly introduced quadruple vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and hepatitis B), the haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine as well as contraceptive supplies. The Syrian Ministry of Health provided the Agency with its requirements of the quadruple (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and haemophilus influenzae type B) vaccine and provided hepatitis B vaccine as a single antigen. The Ministries of Health of Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic provided refugee patients with anti-tuberculosis drugs within the framework of the implementation of the directly observed treatment (short course) strategy.
74. Cooperation with WHO and other United Nations agencies. Technical supervision of the UNRWA health-care programme continued to be provided by WHO. Under long-standing arrangements, the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office of WHO provided UNRWA with the services of the Agency’s Director of Health and Chief, Health Protection and Promotion, two local posts and technical literature and scientific publications. In response to the Agency’s request for emergency assistance in the occupied Palestinian territory, WHO provided medical supplies worth $500,000 comprising 50 emergency kits, each containing basic supplies covering the needs of 10,000 people for three months. WHO also agreed to mobilize the services of a sanitary engineer for six months to assess the needs and plan for rehabilitation of water and sewerage infrastructure in refugee camps in the West Bank. The Agency participated in international and interregional WHO meetings and observed all international health days. In the framework of long-standing cooperation with UNICEF, the latter provided the Agency’s requirements of supplies for immunization in the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon fields against poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles and tuberculosis. UNICEF also made an in-kind contribution of medical equipment and supported a programme for enhancing institutional capacity-building in the Jordan field in terms of medical and nursing staff. The Agency also collaborated with UNDP and UNICEF to assess the damage to water and sewerage systems in the Jenin camp following the Israeli military incursions of April 2002 and maintained an active system of communication with UNAIDS.
C. Relief and social services
75. Objectives. The mission of the relief and social services programme is to provide humanitarian assistance for Palestine refugees who suffer from acute socio-economic hardship and to promote self-reliance among less advantaged members of the refugee community, in particular women, youth and the physically and mentally challenged. In addition, the programme serves as a custodian for historical refugee records and updates and maintains them in order to determine eligibility for all Agency services.
76. Refugee registration. There were 3,973,360 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA on 30 June 2002, an increase of 2.54 per cent over the 30 June 2001 figure of 3.8 million (see annex I, table 1). As in the previous reporting period, the rate of increase reflected the rate of natural population growth, with updates of refugee records accounted by new births, marriages and deaths. The largest proportion of refugees was registered in Jordan, with 42.3 per cent of the Agency-wide total, followed by the Gaza Strip, 22.1 per cent, the West Bank, 15.8 per cent, the Syrian Arab Republic, 10.1 per cent, and Lebanon, 9.7 per cent. Of the registered population, 36 per cent were 15 years of age or under, 54 per cent were between 16 and 59 years of age, and 10 per cent were 60 years of age or above. The Agency witnessed an increase in the number of refugees updating their registration records with UNRWA, in particular in the occupied Palestinian territory. Approximately one third of the total registered refugee population resided in the 59 refugee camps in the Agency’s areas of operation, while the majority of registered refugees lived in cities, towns and villages (see annex I, table 2). On an operational level, field and headquarters senior managers finalized an updated set of eligibility and registration instructions, providing clearer guidelines for field staff on the implementation of those activities. In addition, the programme continued to consolidate all the data pertaining to registered refugees in th e family files, which form the historical archives of the registered refugees over the 52 years that UNRWA has been operating, through the amalgamation of ex-codes within the family files. Ex-codes integrate the records of an original 1948 refugee family with all other documents related to the nuclear families that descended from it. At the end of the reporting period, 31.2 per cent of index cards in Lebanon and 56 per cent in the West Bank, which were used to carry out registration until the computerized field registration system was introduced in 1996, were amalgamated in the respective 234,958 family files. During the reporting period, the ex-code amalgamation process was completed in the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Arab Republic. The process in Jordan will start when family files are digitally scanned.
77. Unified registration system. The unified registration system staff, in cooperation with the Information Systems Division, continued to progress on instituting technical improvements to segments of the Agency’s computerized registration system. Most attention was paid to the field registration system, which operates in 29 different locations in the region and tracks the registration records of the over 3.9 million refugees, and to the field social study system. Linked with the field registration system database, the field social study system enabled social workers and relief and social services management staff to access and update the socio-economic records of the 65,730 special hardship families at field and area levels for improved programme planning and management. A new enhanced version of the field social study system was developed, tested, and decentralized to all fields and areas. New revisions and updates of the field registration system were also begun, in an effort to solve long-standing problems originating from weaknesses in the system design. Audit and technical reviews concluded that, while the current computerized components of the field registration system, the field social study system and the unified registration system can be enhanced and amended in places in order to rectify some of these weaknesses, such efforts can only ameliorate, not solve, all the problems inherent in the maintenance and updating of the registration records on outdated software packages. The Agency recognized that a redesigned, online computer system (a new integrated refugee registration information system) should be developed and implemented. That system, moreover, would need to be open for future linkages to other types of UNRWA data (such as the hard copy family file documents) and can only be developed upon receipt of extrabudgetary contributions. Fund-raising efforts were launched towards that end and included a budget that would also enable the digital scanning and preservation of the more than 16 million historical family file documents. At the same time, the Unified Registration System Unit continued its field support activities through field visits and workshops to ensure improved efficiency in providing service s. That included the construction of a pilot version of a free-standing NGO database in Lebanon.
78. Special hardship programme. UNRWA continued to assist refugee families who were unable to meet basic needs for food, shelter and other essentials. The principal means of assistance to special hardship case families were food support, shelter rehabilitation, selective cash assistance, hospitalization subsidies and preferential access to UNRWA training centres. The special hardship case programme accounted for 83.8 per cent of the relief and social services budget. The number of refugees in households which met the stringent eligibility criteria — no male adult medically fit to earn an income and no other identifiable means of financial support above a defined threshold — increased by 55 per cent, from 217,388 in June 2001 to 229,404 on 30 June 2002 (see annex I, table 3). The proportion of special hardship cases within the total registered refugee population increased slightly, from 5.61 per cent to 5.77 per cent. The percentage of refugees enrolled in the programme continued to be highest in Lebanon, at 10.79 per cent, and the Gaza Strip, at 9.09 per cent, and lowest in Jordan, at 2.60 per cent. The three largest categories of special hardship case assistance were directed to families whose male breadwinner was incapable of working for medical reasons (35.2 per cent), families headed by a widow, divorcee or deserted female (24.5 per cent), or the destitute elderly (13.3 per cent). In an effort to further standardize field operations, the Relief Services Division finalized and issued the revised and reorganized relief services instructions governing the special hardship assistance programme.
79. Food support. Assistance provided under the special hardship programme included five basic food commodities for each beneficiary (flour, rice, sugar, milk and oil) in addition to a cash subsidy equivalent to $40 per person per year. In a slight modification, broad beans and sardines were substituted for milk, as requested by the European Commission, owing to new pricing and shipping difficulties for European-supplied milk; families in Lebanon also received lentils. Valued at approximately $110 per person per annum, food support continued to be provided on a quarterly basis, with distribution of both cash and food commodities taking place from 185 different locations. Limited funds and in kind support available to the Agency for the programme did not allow UNRWA to provide assistance to the increasing numbers of refugees applying for humanitarian aid, a matter of particular concern in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where poverty rates have risen sharply as a result of the conditions of strife and consequent economic deterioration. The food support provided by UNRWA to the 57,800 special hardship case families continued to serve as a crucial safety net for the poor in areas with high poverty rates and political uncertainty.
80. Selective cash assistance. During the reporting period, the modest allocation of $500,000 for selective cash assistance enabled the Agency to respond only to acute crises in the refugee community as these funds had to be shared among the five fields of operation. Small grants, at an average of $130, were provided on a case-by-case basis for 3,113 special hardship case families facing emergency situations, such as loss of household goods or income due to fire or flooding. It is estimated that some 11,560 special hardship case families, representing 20 per cent of the Agency-wide total, are in need of selective cash assistance.
81. Shelter rehabilitation. With special contributions from earmarked project funding, UNRWA rehabilitated a total of 667 shelters of special hardship case families, as compared with 358 in the previous reporting period. Shelter rehabilitation was carried out either on a self-help basis, with the Agency providing financial and technical assistance and beneficiary families arranging volunteer labour, or by small camp-based contractors, with the aim of creating employment within the refugee community. Available resources continued to fall far short of identified needs. It was estimated that 14,450 special hardship case families, representing 25 per cent of the Agency-wide total and comprising 57,351 persons, continued to live in housing that does not meet minimally acceptable standards for structural soundness, hygiene, ventilation and space relative to family size. An estimated $12,060,000 is needed to repair or reconstruct the 2,242 shelters that have already been identified as being in urgent need of immediate intervention. Following last year’s regional workshop on the “Self-help approach to shelter rehabilitation”, the Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza
fields began adopting that approach in the rehabilitation/repair of 26 shelters in Jordan, 29 in Lebanon and 21 in the Gaza Strip.
82. Poverty alleviation programme. The main objective of this programme is to alleviate problems caused by poverty and unemployment and to foster self-reliance among poor refugees. The programme offers both financial and non-financial services, including various credit products, to individuals and groups for projects such as business start-ups and for training in technical and business skills. While the size and type of loans vary from one field to another, the size of most loans falls within the range of $500 to $10,000. Despite the limited financial capacity for making loan and credit allocations, the programme served a total of 3,568 individuals and their families. During the reporting period, 119 families moved off the Agency’s list of special hardship families through the establishment of their own successful microenterprises and 810 others gained marketable skills through apprenticeships or skills training. While a total of 1,519 persons benefited directly from the poverty alleviation programme during the reporting period, it is estimated that the value of the credit or training opportunities often extended beyond the core loan clientele to impact 5,772 persons indirectly, particularly members of the nuclear familie s of the clients. Project funds were raised to increase the level of loan capital available to the field programmes as well as to provide specialized training and technical assistance for key implementing staff. Six field and headquarters staff members attended a three-week training course on microfinance in the first phase of staff development.
83. Social development programmes. Special effort was invested in updating the development concepts and practices of the social development programmes, with increasing emphasis on utilizing participatory approaches in the planning and implementation of camp activities further on in moving towards self-sustainability. The programmes continued to operate through a network of community-based organizations, most of which are physically located within the camps. These programmes cover women, youth and physically/mentally challenged refugees, providing a wide range of services and opportunities for camp residents as well as the wider refugee community. The community-based organizations in all fields are managed by dedicated local volunteers, with the exception of the Syrian Arab Republic field, where they are administered by an UNRWA staff member who works along with a committee of community volunteers. Many of the volunteers are elected to administrative committees of community-based organizations for a fixed term of office. At present, the number of community-based organizations in the five fields of operation has reached a total of 134, of which 71 are women’s programme centres; 27 youth activity centres and 36 community rehabilitation centres. The activities of the community-based organizations reflected the priority concerns of women, youth and the disabled. In the West Bank and the Gaza fields, for example, the community-based organizations adjusted their activities to address the urgent needs arising from the conditions of strife. In addition to providing in kind assistance to needy families, they sponsored first aid courses, therapeutic workshops for traumatized children, supplementary classes for pupils and counselling to the disabled. Women’s programme centres provided skills training for women as well as men, with some of the most popular courses being computer skills courses. Awareness sessions and campaigns were conducted to raise public awareness of social issues, such as early marriage, domestic violence, AIDS, drug addiction, the causes of poverty and the hazards of smoking. Counselling services, legal advice, kindergartens and nurseries were also offered as support services for women, in addition to organized recreational and cultural activities. Female participation in youth activity centres was on the rise and a number of women assumed leadership roles in the centres. Community rehabilitation centres continued to play a leading role in successfully applying the community-based approach to rehabilitation. The leadership of community rehabilitation centres continued to focus on the full integration of the disabled within their communities. Some efforts of community rehabilitation centres focused on the organization of special activities, such as summer/winter camps, that brought together persons with and without disabilities. Other subprogrammes succeeded in integrating children with disabilities into regular schools, as is the case in the Lebanon field, where six visually impaired children were successfully integrated into mainstream primary schools. Schools for the hearing impaired in the Gaza Strip offered elementary level education as well as libraries and play room facilities for use by children from regular schools as well as those in specialized educational classes.
84. Capacity-building. During the past year, great emphasis was placed on developing the skills of staff and volunteers and building institutional capacity in community-based organizations. That was seen as vital to the achievement of continued progress towards
the community-based organizations becoming operationally more self-reliant. While high turnover among volunteers in community-based organizations and the generally adverse economic conditions in most camps (particularly in the West Bank and Gaza fields) continued to pose a challenge in that regard, the social services staff nevertheless continued to identify and provide technical assistance in priority institution-building skills: programme planning, implementation and evaluation; management training; building revenue-generating skills for the centres; fund-raising for financial, training, project needs; networking and building partnerships with local and international NGOs. While only 0.82 per cent of all relevant community-based organizations have achieved financial sustainability, the community-based organizations nevertheless succeeded in generating resources from non-Agency sources through various fund-raising and networking efforts. The estimated value of support raised during the reporting period (in grants or in kind assistance) amounted to $1,301,410.
85. Constraints. During the past year, the conditions of strife in the occupied Palestinian territory posed substantial obstacles to achieving programme goals. Mobility of staff and goods, including vehicles delivering food commodities, were severely restricted. Many staff members were under strict curfew for long durations during IDF incursions and lost work hours waiting at Israeli checkpoints. West Bank staff were often not given permission by the Israeli authorities to travel to work in East Jerusalem and Gaza staff could not reach their field and area offices because of daily roadblocks bisecting or trisecting the Gaza Strip. Financial losses were incurred because of the impact on the income-generation aspects of the community-based organizations. Owing to the deteriorating economic conditions, many clients were no longer able to pay fees for courses or services or share in the cost of equipment, such as prosthetic devices for the disabled. IDF closures on cities and towns in most of the West Bank often paralysed the work of the community-based organizations, particularly training activities and field staff visits.
86. Programme budget and administration. The regular budget for the relief and social services programme for 2002-2003 was $68.5 million, representing 10.2 per cent of the overall Agency budget. The relief and social services programme had 667 staff members. The largest share of the relief and social services budget, 82 per cent, was allocated to assisting the poorest segment of the refugee population, the special hardship families. Administration of the special hardship programme was carried out by 268 social workers, who represented the single largest segment of the relief and social services staff. The average caseload of social workers, at 262 cases per year, was in excess of the recommended norm of 250 cases per year. Workshops were conducted during the reporting period for 71 social workers and key relief and social services staff in all fields on planning and implementation of training needs assessments and design of training programmes.
87. Cooperation with host authorities and NGOs. Close ties were maintained between UNRWA programmes and concerned ministries of host authorities, the non-governmental sector and United Nations agencies. To enhance that cooperation, a database of non-governmental organizations in the field of social development was completed and is being pilot tested in Lebanon. Strong networking capacities have led to field-level agreements or projects with United Nations agencies, relevant host government institutions and NGOs active in the region. The Palestinian Authority made 31 dunams of land available in Tel-Es-Sultan to refugees whose shelters were demolished during Israeli military operations. UNRWA is assisting in the reconstruction of 99 shelters on the land. The Palestinian Authority donated another four dunams of land, for the same purpose, in the middle region of the Gaza Strip. Cooperation on the conceptual and technical design aspects of the family files project was solicited and received from various social science and research institutes and interested host and donor governments.
D. Microfinance and microenterprise programme
88. Objectives. During the reporting period the microfinance and microenterprise programme adapted its business objectives to face the most severe long-term recession of the Palestinian economy since 1967. As a result of the hardship facing its business clientele, the programme has had to switch its credit products from straightforward market-oriented private sector development and reorient its credit activities to business survival, rehabilitation and rescue. In current conditions, the programme is only lending to existing businesses that show a capacity to survive, sustain jobs, generate income and help mitigate poverty. Credit to women microentrepreneurs was more robust than with the programme’s other credit products. During the current reporting period, the programme provided 8,523 loans worth $6.51 million for businesses in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Women microentrepreneurs received 38 per cent of those loans. Si nce the programme began, a total of 51,205 loans valued at $63.1 million were disbursed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
89. Institutional reform. As part of the Agency’s ongoing reform process, the programme has improved its loan portfolio management through the introduction of a new loan loss provision and write-off policy. That has brought its financial procedures into line with the best practices and common standards of the emergent microfinance industry, whereby potential loan losses are provisioned as soon as a loan becomes at risk. The programme has reoriented its organizational structure from one organized around programme management to one organized around product management through a network of branch offices. As the programme expands, this will lead to the development of a more sharply defined organizational structure with greater hierarchy. To facilitate that process, the programme is currently undertaking a systems analysis and review of its existing loan management information system in order to develop a more fully integrated information system that will facilitate the process of global, national, regional and branch management of the programme’s various credit products. The Agency has also hired an auditor to conduct a separate annual external audit of the microfinance and microenterprise programme. This will lead to the achievement of the goal of establishing credible and verified commercial business practices for the programme and making them transparent. At the last advisory board meeting, in November 2001, the board recommended the regionalization and expansion of the programme into both Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic by opening new branch offices in Amman and Damascus. It additionally recommended the piloting of a new consumer loan product in the Gaza Strip.
90. Impact of closures and other restrictive measures. The escalating conditions of strife in the occupied Palestinian territory have caused a severe economic deterioration. The closures and movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities have crippled the Palestinian economy. Thus, the programme was unable to sustain self-sufficiency. By June 2002, the monthly credit outreach had fallen to 923 loans valued at $655,276, compared with September 2000 when the monthly outreach stood at 1,304 loans valued at $1.46 million. To survive the current recession, the programme had slowly begun de-capitalization to cover its operational costs.
91. Overall trend. Despite the slowdown in lending, the programme remained the largest financial intermediary to the small business and microenterprise sector, especially as the banks withdrew from this market as the risks increased during the reporting period. The Agency continued lending throughout the continuing conditions of strife but has taken steps to reduce risk by introducing smaller loans, requiring tighter terms and withdrawing from high-risk sectors. In 2001, the programme funded just 89 per cent of its overhead and investment cost of $1.24 million from programme revenue of $1.10 million. The future cost recovery of the programme depends on the lifting of recessionary pressures, and in particular the trade constraints imposed by closures. If these are eased, the programme will be able to increase its cost recovery and eventually return to self-sufficiency. This process of financial rehabilitation will be accelerated if the new consumer-lending product is successfully piloted. The number of loans disbursed decreased from 7,170 valued at $6.79 million during the previous reporting period, to 6,001 valued at $4.08 million during the current reporting period.
92. Microenterprise credit product. The Gaza microfinance and microenterprise programme delivered four credit products and a small business training programme. The microenterprise credit product was the most substantial of the programme’s four products. It provided working capital loans to formal and informal microenterprises that constitute most businesses in the Gaza Strip and employed the bulk of the local labour market. The initial loan maximum was $1,000. If a client repaid the loan on time, he could double the loan size at the next loan cycle. That graduated methodology allowed the programme to screen out underperforming clients before they could become a significant problem. During the reporting period, the programme provided 2,699 loans valued at $2.30 million. The annual repayment rate in 2001 fell to 86 per cent for the reasons described above. Since its introduction in 1996, the programme has provided 19,670 microenterprise loans valued at $21.68 million.
93. Solidarity group-lending product. The solidarity group-lending product targeted loans to women microentrepreneurs, most of whom worked in the informal sector. This product was also a working capital loan but was provided with nominal collateral. Women guaranteed each other’s loans by forming solidarity groups, whereby each woman in the group could only receive a new loan if the members of her group were timely in their payments. This product remained the most resilient, managing to reach an annual repayment rate of 91 per cent despite the current conditions of strife. While it has maintained a high level of productivity, the programme reduced the average loan size as its clients were squeezed when demand for products dropped as the purchasing power of the society at large fell. That had a negative effect on the cost recovery of the programme. During the reporting period, 3,183 loans amounting to $1.50 million were disbursed. Since 1994, 20,782 loans valued at $15.23 million have been provided for businesses owned by women.
94. Small-scale enterprise product. The small-scale enterprise product has been the worst hit by the ongoing crisis. This product was targeted at enterprises larger than the micro level, primarily in the industrial and service sectors of the economy. Those formal businesses, which are competing in regional and global markets, were not resilient to market shocks of the magnitude witnessed since September 2000. Many businesses lost their market share and were unable to meet their accounts payable or collect their accounts receivable. Most laid off workers, experienced idle capacity and accumulated a large stock of slowly moving finished products. A significant number withdrew from the market or went bankrupt. To reduce the risk of lending to this sector, the small-scale enterprise product was restricted to clients who had already received and repaid loans. During the reporting period, the programme provided only 36 loans valued at $239,800. Since the programme was established in 1991, a total of 891 small-scale enterprise products worth $13.62 million have been disbursed.
95. Consumer-lending product. In February 2002, a new consumer-lending product was piloted in the Jabaliya refugee camp. After it passes through its pilot phase, the product will be retailed in other regions of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The product was aimed at improving the quality of life of low-income and economically marginal families through the provision of consumer credit. It sought to help those families by smoothing troughs in the household budget in times of shortage, allowing them to preserve household assets in times of hardship and reconstituting lost assets after periods of unemployment. Workers and low-paid professionals usually secured income shortfalls from non-formal sources, such as family, community and occupational networks. As the economy sharply deteriorated, non-formal networks had started collapsing. At the same time, the banking sector had not provided consumer loans for such workers owing to the high level of job instability and perceived risk. Such consumer loans were used to build up household assets or for extraordinary events of cyclical family requirements. Since it was started in February, the programme has provided 83 loans worth $35,500. By June 2002, it had maintained a six-monthly repayment rate of 98.49 per cent.
96. Small and microenterprise training programme. The small and microenterprise training programme provided business training and entrepreneurship development for the Gaza Strip’s emerging private sector. During the reporting period, the programme received donor support for its training services. Despite the problems plaguing the credit programme, demand for the training programme remained high. The programme covered 100 per cent of the direct costs of running its courses from fees charged to participants. During the current reporting period, it offered 43 training courses to 920 participants.
West Bank field
97. Microenterprise credit. Until the opening of the new Hebron branch office, in November 2001, the Agency’s microenterprise credit activities were concentrated in the northern West Bank. Growth of the programme halted, as in the Gaza Strip, with much lower income flows and lower credit outreach. The programme’s offices in Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem have been especially hard hit since March 2002. The Jenin office was closed for most of April owing to the escalation in the conditions of strife. During the IDF operations in Nablus, the branch office was damaged by shrapnel and percussion shocks. Most staff from Nablus and Tulkarem were unable to reach their offices throughout much of April. The Hebron office, though less affected, was not able to reach full capacity owing to the economic constraints facing its clients. During the reporting period, 2,515 microenterprise loans worth $2,369,774 were disbursed. Since the programme was established in 1998, 9,521 loans valued at $9,328,819 were disbursed. The small-scale enterprise subprogramme in the West Bank was drastically cut back during the reporting period, and only seven loans, valued at $61,200, were retailed. A total of 258 of those loan products, valued at $3,207,783, have been disbursed since 1996.
Jordan and Syrian Arab Republic fields
98. The Agency decided to regionalize the programme by expanding it into Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic. Seed capital and start-up funds have been transferred to both fields to launch the programme through the opening of a new branch office in the Wihdat area of Amman and another in the Yarmouk area of Damascus. In May 2002, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic gave approval for UNRWA to establish the programme there.
E. Peace Implementation Programme
99. Objectives. The Peace Implementation Programme was launched by the Agency following the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel (A/48/486-S/26560, annex). From October 1993 until December 1999, it was the primary channel for extrabudgetary project funding for activities carried out within the framework of Agency programmes in education, health, relief and social services and income generation, and contributed in a very practical and tangible way to the improvement of the refugees’ overall living conditions and to creating employment opportunities and developing infrastructure. Following the adoption of the 2000-2001 programme-based biennium budget, which divided the Agency’s budget into a regular budget and a projects budget, all new non-core contributions were credited to the projects budget. A new “Projects 2000-2001” programme was introduced from January 2000 to track all contributions to the biennium projects budget.
100. Implementation. During the reporting period, funds from the Programme enabled UNRWA to complete the construction of five schools, 23 additional classrooms, one school science laboratory and two handcraft units, a P3 safety biology laboratory at a central public health laboratory, and the establishment of one community rehabilitation centre. The Programme also made it possible to complete the repatriation of residents of Canada Camp to Tel El-Sultan in Rafah. At two of the Agency’s vocational training centres, funds from the Programme enabled the upgrading of workshops and the provision and upgrading of equipment. Other projects completed during the reporting period included: self-help pavement of alleyways in Beach Camp, integration of visually impaired children in Lebanon, scholarships and HIV/AIDS awareness in various fields. Cash expenditure under the Programme amounted to $3.8 million during the reporting period.
101. Status of funding. No new funding was received towards the Peace Implementation Programme as it was incorporated into the projects budget. As of 30 June 2002, the outstanding amounts from the donors related to ongoing projects in connection with the Programme were $11.6 million.
102. Objectives. In recognition of the fact that funding for specific projects had taken on increasing financial and programmatic importance over the years, and in order to establish a more targeted fund-raising approach, UNRWA established Agency-wide project priorities that form the basis for the projects budget beginning with the 2000-2001 biennium budget and continuing with the 2002-2003 biennium budget. The aim of including the projects budget in the biennium budget was to provide a complete picture of the financial requirements over the biennium and to link the project-funded activities directly with those programme activities funded under the regular budget. Unless projects needs were covered, the Agency would not be able to attain its goals and objectives for the biennium and the quality and level of its services would suffer. The 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 projects budgets comprised mainly non-recurrent, infrastructure costs that were to be funded by non-core budget contributions. The continuing and steady growth of the Palestine refugee population necessitated the strategic expansion, replacement and maintenance of UNRWA facilities to meet the increasing demand for Agency services (particularly in the field of education) and the improvement of housing and environmental health conditions in refugee camps.
103. Implementation. During the reporting period, project funds enabled UNRWA to complete the construction of three schools (one in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank), 24 additional classrooms, and seven specialized rooms at various schools and the replacement of two health centres in the West Bank. It was also possible to complete the rehabilitation of 642 shelters of special hardship families Agency-wide. Further funding was used for procurement of equipment for vocational training centres and renovation of halls to establish computer labs. The Agency was also able to provide hospitalization services and improve the access to hospital care in Lebanon. Improvement of building facilities and water supplies at various schools in Jordan was completed. There was continuing development of infrastructure in the Tel El-Sultan area in Rafah in the Gaza Strip and sponsoring of Palestinian nursing students in Lebanon. Other Agency-wide activities continued, including the installation of a new finance, payroll and human resources system, technical assistance in education planning and the operation of the UNRWA Liaison Office in Geneva. Several junior professional officers were also funded during the reporting period.
104. Status of funding. During the reporting period, UNRWA received pledges for projects in the amount of $28.8 million, raising the total amount of funding received to $58.1 million. Of the new funding, $5.6 million — or 54 per cent — was allocated to the health sector, $3.9 million to the education sector, $3.2 million to the relief and social services sector, and $2.1 million to other projects, while $4 million was yet to be allocated. Projects in the Gaza Strip received $13.8 million, whereas $1.3 million was allocated to the West Bank. Lebanon received $2.7 million, Jordan received $1.8 million and the Syrian Arab Republic was allocated $1.3 million. Agency-wide activities received $3.9 million in addition to $4 million for projects to be identified in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The funding received during the reporting period for projects was sufficient to allocate funding for an additional 46 projects. Cash expenditure for projects amounted to $11.9 million during the reporting period.
G. Lebanon appeal
105. Objectives. There was no noticeable improvement in the socio-economic conditions of the Palestine refugee community in Lebanon during the reporting period. The continuously weak socio-economic situation of the country as a whole, combined with the inability of the refugees to gain full access to the job market or to benefit from public services, resulted in growing desperation and misery. Most of the over 370,000 registered Palestine refugees in Lebanon continued to face very difficult living conditions and depended almost entirely on UNRWA for basic services. The Agency’s special emergency appeal for Lebanon, launched in July 1997, sought to solicit additional contributions in the amount of $11 million in support of essential health, education, and relief and social services activities in order to alleviate the financial pressures resulting from insufficient resources in the Agency’s regular budget.
106. Implementation. During the reporting period, UNRWA completed the construction of a secondary school and construction or repair of shelters for the families of special hardship cases.
107. Status of funding. The Appeal received positive responses from eight countries and one intergovernmental organization, pledging a total of $9.3 million by 30 June 1998. By end of June 2002, the Agency had received $9.2 million of that amount, and had expended $9.0 million. Cash expenditure during the reporting period amounted to $500,000. Of the total pledges, $4.6 million (48 per cent), was allocated to the health sector. An amount of $3.8 million was pledged for projects in the education sector and $900,000 was allocated for shelter rehabilitation. An additional $100,000 in interest earned on the Appeal contribution was used in the procurement of textbooks required for the new curriculum. The outstanding amount of $100,000 was for a shelter rehabilitation project and is expected to be collected before the end of 2002.
H. Emergency appeals
108. Context. Closures and curfews, imposed at various times throughout the year on the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, continued to disrupt physical mobility and economic activity, affecting livelihoods and the delivery of services. The Agency had to cope with destroyed refugee shelters, elevated demand for its health, relief and social services and disruption of its regular education programmes. In the Gaza Strip, a total of 480 refugee shelters accommodating 3,900 persons had been destroyed or damaged beyond repair from September 2000 to May 2002. In health, increasing numbers of refugees have turned to UNRWA services. At the end of 2001, medical consultations had increased by approximately 21 per cent over the previous year. Worsening economic hardship made it harder for the chronically ill to seek care from other providers, even as the number of those injured and suffering from psychological trauma due to the ongoing conditions of strife had grown. Closures and other movement restrictions have also caused enormous disruption to the Agency’s education programme. In response to the ongoing crisis, UNRWA maintained its emergency operations in the occupied Palestinian territory. Independent surveys, conducted during the year by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and by the Graduate Institute of Development Studies of the University of Geneva, consistently placed UNRWA as a leader in providing emergency assistance in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
109. Implementation. In July 2001, a memorandum of understanding was signed between UNRWA and the Palestinian Ministry of Housing, after a site was identified for the construction of housing for some refugees from Rafah in the Gaza Strip who had been rendered homeless. As of 30 June 2002, UNRWA was assisting with the construction of housing on the site for those refugee families. UNRWA expanded short-term employment opportunities in the course of the year, both in response to the worsening levels of poverty among refugees and in order to maintain services badly affected by closures. By the end of April 2002, over 140,000 individuals in the Gaza Strip, wage earners and their dependants, had benefited from short-term jobs managed directly by UNRWA since the inception of the emergency employment programme. Many more in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip benefited from work opportunities created through private sector construction projects contracted by UNRWA or community-based infrastructure works in refugee camps funded by the Agency. Food distribution targeting some 127,000 families in the Gaza Strip and 90,000 in the West Bank continued, and greater provisions were made for selective cash assistance to families in distress. In March 2002 alone, in the Gaza Strip UNRWA disbursed a total of $261,600 among 882 families, and in the West Bank $138,882 was issued to 528 families. In response to the growing demand for UNRWA health services, stocks of emergency medical supplies and equipment were replenished. Staff complements were increased in areas where closures hindered access. During the Israeli operations of March and April 2002, UNRWA clinics that w ere able to function remained open round the clock. Assistance to physically disabled refugees in the form of physiotherapy, prostheses, training and modifications to housing continued to grow. Two mental health teams in the Gaza Strip and 33 counsellors in the West Bank provided counselling, especially for children traumatized by the events around them. UNRWA has conducted remedial classes for thousands of children in the Gaza Strip. Other forms of emergency assistance provided through UNRWA included distributions of tents, blankets and kitchen sets to families rendered homeless.
110. Status of funding. The long-term nature of the emergency had become apparent by June 2001, when UNRWA appealed for funds to maintain emergency operations until the end of the year, raising approximately $63 million. In January 2002, an appeal for $117 million was launched in order to cover planned emergency activities for a further 12-month period. As at end April 2002, confirmed pledges received under this appeal stood at $48.5 million.
111. The Agency’s estimates for the emergency programme for 2002 were based on the experience of the previous year. However, the major escalation in the level of damage and destruction since March 2002 has created a situation in which humanitarian conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have deteriorated to levels not seen in decades. The Agency was therefore compelled to take urgent measures to provide immediate relief and to prepare a plan to meet longer-term needs. It was estimated that, in March 2002 in the West Bank, 2,629 shelters housing 13,145 refugees sustained damage during the Israeli operations. In April, in the Jenin refugee camp alone, some 400 families were rendered homeless, and repairs were needed for some 1,100 shelters. In the Balata, Dheisheh and Tulkarem camps, 120 shelters needed repairs. In addition, the camp infrastructure, including roads, water pipes, electricity lines and sewage systems, was severely damaged in the course of the Israeli military operations.
112. Apart from the need for repair and reconstruction, the immediate increase in the numbers of homeless, almost destitute and traumatized refugees, placed a major new burden on the Agency’s resources. It became necessary to take measures to expand the existing emergency programmes providing food assistance, health care for the injured and disabled, emergency education programmes and programmes for relief and social assistance. The Agency estimated that the supplementary measures, over and above the emergency programme for 2002, would require funding at the level of $55.7 million. A supplementary appeal to that effect was issued by the end of the reporting period. Military activities continued and tight closures and curfews increasingly restricted the mobility of the population, especially in the West Bank. With no end to the strife in sight and economic distress growing, UNRWA continued to review appeal requirements as events unfolded.
A. Fund structure
113. During the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, UNRWA received contributions and incurred expenditure against the following headings:
(a) Regular budget;
(b) Projects budget, consisting of:
(i) Post-1999 projects;
(ii) Peace Implementation Programme;
(iii) Lebanon appeal;
(iv) Emergency appeal.
114. The regular budget covered all recurrent costs incurred on UNRWA programmes of education, health, and relief and social services, and all support functions.
115. Post-1999 project activities covered project funding received in respect of the 2000-2001 consolidated list of priority projects and other project funding received after 31 December 1999.
116. The Peace Implementation Programme covered project activities funded under an ongoing UNRWA initiative since 1993 to improve the infrastructure and enhance the living conditions of refugees Agency-wide.
117. The Lebanon appeal covered urgent operational needs funded in response to a July 1997 UNRWA appeal for increased assistance to help alleviate the adverse socio-economic conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon.
118. The emergency appeal covered emergency activities by the Agency in response to the intifada in the West Bank and Gaza fields. UNRWA launched three appeals between September 2000 and the end of 2001. In January 2002, the Agency launched a $117 million appeal for the year, and planned in July to launch a supplementary emergency appeal for additional requirements emerging from the IDF incursions into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, beginning in February 2002.
B. Budget, income and expenditure
119. Context. Certain organizational characteristics of UNRWA were particularly relevant to its financial situation, such as the Agency’s role as a direct provider of services for the Palestine refugee population through its own installations and staff; the public-sector quality of UNRWA services, including availability to all those meeting the Agency’s operational definition of a Palestine refugee; the steady growth in the number of beneficiaries over time, owing to natural growth in the refugee population; the Agency’s lack of access to revenue sources available to public sectors proper, such as taxation or borrowing, and the absence of a system of assessed contributions and the concomitant reliance of the Agency on voluntary contributions for income.
120. Budget preparation. UNRWA prepares its budget on a biennial basis, although operations are financed on an annual basis. Pursuant to the 2000-2001 biennium, the 2002-2003 budget represented another step forward in the Agency’s efforts to improve budgetary transparency and the usefulness of the budget as a planning, managerial and fund-raising tool. The budget exercise was oriented towards preparing a programme-based budget more structured around the Agency’s service-providing role and programme plans. The budget for 2002-2003 had the following features:
(a) It covered the Agency’s financial requirements for regular programmes, including not only the regular budget but also project activities;
(b) Budget categories were restructured and expenditure reattributed to more accurately reflect the cost of programme activities;
(c) More detailed programmatic explanations and justifications were provided for budgeted activities and changes in budget allocations;
(d) It was derived from a biennial programme of work specifying objectives, expected accomplishments, planned activities and key performance indicators to measure the performance of each substantive programme;
(e) Budget preparation was guided by planning assumptions rather than budget ceilings.
121. In order to monitor implementation, the periodic budget performance review was enhanced to include reporting by programme managers about progress in achieving the budgeted goals and programme objectives. That review activity would be enriched through the use of key performance indicators to assist the line managers in evaluating performance during implementation.
122. Regular budget. The Agency’s 2001 regular budget amounted to $310.4 million, of which $289.7 million represented the cash portion and $20.7 million the in kind portion, mainly donations for the special hardship cases and the nutrition and supplementary feeding programmes. The Agency’s 2002 regular budget totalled $330.7 million, of which $308.8 million represented the cash portion and $21.9 million the in kind portion (see annex I, table 10).
123. Projects budget. The Agency’s projects budget for 2002 was $55.5 million.
124. Income and sources of funding. Cash and in kind income in 2001 amounted to $395.2 million, of which $302.9 million was for the regular budget, $14.7 million for projects and $77.6 million for the emergency appeal. Voluntary contributions from Governments and the European Community accounted for $378.3 million of total income, or 95.7 per cent (see annex I, table 10). Most of that income was received in cash, although $20.3 million was received in kind, mainly as donations of food commodities. Out of the cash income, $23.4 million represented contributions made but not received by the end of 2001. Some $18.5 million of those outstanding contributions were received in 2002. Other United Nations bodies provided $14.9 million (3.8 per cent of total income) to cover staffing costs, including the funding of 105 international posts by the United Nations Secretariat, assistance from UNESCO and WHO in the staffing of the education and health programmes and in kind donation from other United Nations organizations. The remaining $2.0 million (0.5 per cent of total income) came from miscellaneous sources.
125. Expenditure and financial results. Total expenditure incurred by UNRWA in 2001 was $357.6 million, of which $287.3 million was for the regular budget, $12.9 million was for projects and $57.4 million was for the emergency appeal. The Agency recorded a surplus of $13.4 million in the cash portion of the regular budget in 2001, representing the difference between the actual cash income of $280.8 million and the actual cash expenditure of $267.4 million. However, the Agency ended the biennium 2000-2001 with a deficit of $33.3 million, when the approved General Assembly regular cash budget of $570.1 million was compared with the income received of $536.8.
126. Termination indemnities. The 2002-2003 regular budget did not include any provision for termination indemnities payable to local staff upon the eventual dissolution of UNRWA. The Agency has been unable to fund such a provision in previous years. The current estimated amount of $143.6 million for termination indemnities represents a contingent liability for the Agency.
C. Extrabudgetary activities
127. Post-1999 projects. The balance under post-1999 projects is positive, with $7.0 million as of 31 December 2001, representing the difference between the actual income of $23.9 million and the actual expenditure of $16.9 million.
128. Peace Implementation Programme. The Programme account had a positive balance of $10.2 million as of 31 December 2001, representing the difference between the actual income of $213.7 million since the Programme’s inception, and the actual expenditure of $203.5 million. All contributions under the Programme were earmarked for specific project activities to be implemented over varying periods of time.
129. Lebanon appeal. The Lebanon appeal account had a positive balance of $300,000 as of 31 December 2001, representing the difference between the actual contributions received since the appeal was launched in July 1997 and the expenditures incurred as of 31 December 2001. All contributions under the Lebanon appeal were earmarked for specific project activities to be implemented over varying periods of time.
130. Emergency appeal. The balance of the emergency appeal as of 31 December 2001 was $43.5 million, representing the difference between the actual contributions of $101.3 million received since the appeal was launched in October 2000 and the expenditures of $57.8 million incurred as of 31 December 2001.
D. Current financial situation
131. Overview. Owing to the increased level of donor contributions received during 2001, the Agency was able to end the biennium 2000-2001, for the first time in a decade, with a positive working capital balance. The Agency was able to raise an additional $25.0 million in 2001 in contribution income compared with the income level for 2000. The Agency was also able to achieve a relatively favourable financial result by reducing expenditure through the continued application of strict financial controls and the continued implementation of the 1999 Area Staff Rules.
132. Working capital. Working capital, defined as the difference between assets and liabilities in the regular budget for the calendar year, stood at $17.8 million as of 31 December 2001. However, $9.3 million represented funds earmarked to procure basic commodities, leaving a real positive working capital balance of $8.5 million for the cash budget. The end-of-biennium excess of income over expenditure of $12.6 million was partially applied to offset the negative working capital of $4.1 million carried forward from the previous biennium and to leave a positive working capital of $8.5 million. However, that level of working capital was far below the optimal level of one month’s average expenditure, or some $25 million, of which $17 million represented the payroll. On the other hand, the Agency was able, for the first time in a decade, to make progress towards replenishing its working capital during the reporting period owing to an increased level of donor contributions and continued implementation of the 1999 Area Staff Rules.
133. Cash position. The cash flow position of UNRWA remained critical owing to repeated funding shortfalls in previous years that had severely eroded the Agency’s cash position (defined as the amount of cash on hand in Agency bank accounts at any point in time that could be used to meet basic obligations). As of 31 December 2001, outstanding cash pledges under all accounts amounted to $86.6 million, of which $23.4 million pertained to the regular budget, $34.2 million to projects and $29.0 million to the emergency appeal. In addition, the Agency had not yet been reimbursed by the Palestinian Authority in respect of payments made against value-added tax and related charges that were costing the Agency about $1 million annually in lost interest income alone. Those factors exerted further strain on the Agency’s cash position, making it especially difficult to meet obligations in time towards the end of the fiscal year. The Agency would be facing a critical cash shortage in the fourth quarter of 2002. The cash flow forecast for 2002 indicated that the Agency would have a cash shortage of about $31.0 million, the main contributory factors being the following:
(a) Non-reimbursement by the Palestinian Authority of value-added tax (VAT) charges of $22.0 million apart from accumulated interest of $5.0 million;
(b) Unfunded expenditure of $5.2 million on the move of the Agency’s headquarters from Vienna;
(c) Port charges incurred but not reimbursed totalling $7.5 million.
134. Financial situation at mid-2002. The latest estimates of income and expenditure indicated that the Agency’s regular cash budget for 2002 would face a deficit of $12.3 million by the end of the year. Expected cash expenditure in the regular programme was $301.8 million, as against expected cash income of $289.5 million. The cash position remained critical, forcing the Agency to live from hand to mouth in terms of balancing incoming funds and outgoing payments. Additional contributions were being sought to bridge the gap between expected income and expenditure, overcome the difficult cash situation, and replenish the Agency’s working capital.
135. Currency fluctuations. The continuing appreciation of the United States dollar against other European currencies and the Japanese yen caused exchange rate losses for the Agency. In 2001 alone, the Agency sustained an exchange rate loss of $3.4 million. About 85 per cent of the Agency’s expenditure is in dollars, while only 40 per cent of its income is received in that currency. Lack of working capital and other resources limited the Agency’s ability to hedge against those exchange rate losses.
136. Finance and payroll system reform. As part of its management reform process, the Agency embarked in 2000 on a project to install new financial management and payroll systems, which were already successfully operational by the beginning of 2002. These new, more cost-effective systems were designed to improve the Agency’s efficiency, and to improve management’s real-time access to data of critical budgetary and programmatic importance.
A. Agency staff
137. Arrest and detention of staff. The number of UNRWA staff members arrested and/or detained increased from 22 in the previous reporting period to 92 in the current reporting period (see annex I, table 11). The number of staff members detained by the Israeli authorities increased from 8 to 64, one of whom was detained twice. Of those, 49 were arrested by the Israeli authorities in the course of Israeli military operations in the West Bank during the period from March to June 2002, and in most of those cases were released without charge or trial within a few days or weeks of their arrest. The number of staff members detained by the Palestinian authorities increased from 12 to 18, one of whom was detained twice. In addition, there were five staff members arrested in Jordan, one of whom was detained twice, and five staff members arrested in Lebanon. All except one were subsequently released without charge or trial. As at 30 June 2002, 19 staff members remained in detention, of whom 17 were detained by the Israeli authorities, one by the Palestinian authorities and one by the Lebanese authorities.
138. Functional protection of detained staff. The Agency was not always provided with adequate or timely information by the relevant authorities as to the reasons for the arrest or detention of its staff members. In the absence of such information, it was not possible for the Agency to determine whether the official functions of the staff members were relevant to their arrest and detention. Accordingly, the Agency was unable to ensure that rights and obligations flowing from the Charter of the United Nations, the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 1946, and the relevant Staff Rules and Regulations of the Agency were duly respected. In the case of staff members detained by the Israeli authorities, in spite of the Agency’s written requests in each instance, the Agency did not receive any information concerning the reasons for any of the arrests or detentions during the reporting period. In the case of staff members detained by the Palestinian authorities, the Agency was occasionally provided with partial information in response to its requests.
139. Access to detained staff. Despite numerous requests, the Agency was not granted access to staff members arrested by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank during the reporting period, nor was the Agency informed of the locations where most of the staff members were being detained. The Agency was also not granted access to the one staff member arrested by the Israeli authorities from the Gaza Strip. The Agency was given access to the four staff members detained by the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank. The Agency was also granted access, as requested, to the staff members arrested and detained in the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian authorities, although in some instances this was only after persistent efforts on the part of the Agency.
140. Treatment and state of health of detained staff. In the period beginning in March 2002, staff members detained and released by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank were generally held in temporary detention centres for short periods between two days and three weeks. Many of them stated that they had been handcuffed, blindfolded and held without adequate food, water or shelter. The staff members were often released without their identity papers and sometimes in remote locations and in the middle of the night during curfew hours. Staff members were, in a number of instances, subjected to humiliating treatment and physical abuse during their arrests and detentions. For instance, on 2 April 2002, a staff member was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces from an UNRWA humanitarian convoy in Ramallah, required to stand on the side of the road for an hour in the rain, forced at gunpoint to remove his protective United Nations clothing and then detained for 56 hours while handcuffed, blindfolded and deprived of food. One staff member died while in the custody of the Israel Defense Forces under circumstances that the Israeli authorities had failed to explain to the Agency at the close of the reporting period. Two staff members detained by the Palestinian security authorities stated that they had been beaten. One staff member died while in the custody of the Palestinian security authorities in the Gaza Strip, which reported that the staff member had committed suicide and provided a coroner’s report to that effect.
141. Freedom of movement of West Bank and Gaza Strip staff. The Israeli authorities, citing security concerns, have imposed far-reaching restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNRWA personnel. The restrictions have included the external closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the imposition of curfews and internal closures, the setting up of checkpoints, and cumbersome procedures stipulating the use of permits and magnetic cards for local staff residing in the West Bank for their entry into, and driving in, Israel and East Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities have also continued to impose restrictions on the travel of UNRWA personnel and vehicles across borders and external crossing points, including the Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan, the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and the Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport. These restrictions have rendered the UNRWA mission in the occupied Palestinian territory extremely difficult at a time when humanitarian assistance was most needed. The high number of employee absences in addition to difficulties in movement of humanitarian supplies caused serious disruption to all UNRWA programmes during the reporting period. These restrictions are inconsistent with established principles of international law, the Charter of the United Nations, the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and the 1967 bilateral exchange of letters between the Agency and Israel (known as the Comay-Michelmore Agreement). The Israeli authorities state that the restrictions are necessary because of military security considerations or are justified under Israel’s inherent right of self-defence against terrorist attacks. The Agency continued to make representations to the Israeli authorities at all levels, including at meetings with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to have the constraints affecting UNRWA operations removed or alleviated. As during the previous reporting period, the Agency agreed, without prejudice to its positions of principle under international law, to consider pragmatic solutions to facilitate the freedom of movement of its staff members while still meeting legitimate Israeli security concerns. Despite the Agency’s best efforts, however, and repeated assurances from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Israel would try to reach such practical solutions, the freedom of movement of UNRWA staff members became more constrained during the current reporting period.
142. External closures of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The procedures instituted by the Israeli authorities during the last reporting period strictly regulating entry into and exit from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip remained in place during the current reporting period. The Agency’s local staff from these areas continued to be required to obtain a permit to enter Israel and East Jerusalem. At the end of the reporting period, however, almost all of those permits had expired or been revoked and were not being renewed. (For further discussion of the permit regime, see para. 144).
143. Curfews and internal closures in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Curfews were imposed frequently on cities, towns, villages and refugee camps throughout the West Bank, particularly beginning in March 2002. During the period from April to the end of the reporting period, more than two thirds of UNRWA staff were not able to reach the West Bank field office for duty. In April, during the height of the Israeli military operations, approximately 1,300 UNRWA teachers (72 per cent) in the West Bank could not attend their schools owing to restrictions on their freedom of movement. Checkpoints and roadblocks were established on all major and most minor roads throughout the West Bank by the Israeli authorities. At the end of the reporting period, there were approximately 180 such checkpoints and roadblocks in place throughout the West Bank. During the last few months of the reporting period, Palestinians with West Bank identification cards, including UNRWA staff members, had increasing difficulty moving between areas in the West Bank and were often refused passage at checkpoints.
144. Since September 2000, and particularly in the second half of the current reporting period, the Israel Defense Forces have repeatedly trisected the Gaza Strip by closing the secondary roads and placing checkpoints on the main north-south road at the Abu Houli-Gush Qatif and Netzarim junctions and on the coastal road at the Netzarim junction. At other times, while the Abu Houli-Gush Qatif checkpoint was completely or partially closed, the coastal road remained open, allowing traffic to bypass the Netzarim junction. In this case, the Gaza Strip was still effectively bisected, with the Khan Younis and Rafah areas in the south cut off from Gaza City in the north. On days when the checkpoints were open, they were generally open for only a few hours per day, at unpredictable times that were subject to change without prior notification. As a result, it was extremely difficult or impossible for the Agency’s local staff to reach their places of work. Those staff members who did reach their work places were often able to attend work for only a few hours per day and faced considerable delays, sometimes of three to four hours each way, at the checkpoints. In addition, whenever Israeli settlers were travelling on the settler roads connecting Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip to Israel, and which cross the main north-south road at the Abu Houli-Gush Qatif or Netzarim junction, the Israel Defense Forces would block all other traffic until the settlers passed, causing further delays. During the second half of the reporting period, an estimated 769 UNRWA staff members in the Gaza field and some 37 staff members assigned to the Agency’s Gaza headquarters were regularly unable to report to work because of those internal closures. The Agency was obliged to accommodate some essential local staff members at hotels in Gaza City at a total expense of some $82,900. On occasion, staff members were searched or threatened by members of the Israel Defense Forces at those checkpoints. Since April 2002, the Israeli authorities have required vehicles, including United Nations vehicles, crossing the checkpoints to carry at least two persons in addition to the driver. Given the number of UNRWA vehicles that regularly need to cross the checkpoints, that requirement has placed a particular strain on the Agency’s operations. A closure regime that includes a night time curfew, beginning at 1600 hours, and daytime movement restrictions was imposed in the Palestinian area adjacent to the Dugit and Alai Sinai settlements in the north of the Gaza Strip in July 2001, and in the El Mawasi area in the south in December 2001. That closure regime continued throughout the reporting period, during which the two areas were at times completely closed. The curfews and closures have rendered difficult, and at times impossible, the norma l humanitarian services that the Agency provides for the 1,145 Palestinian families living in those areas.
145. Entry and driving permits issued by Israel for UNRWA local staff. During the current reporting period, there was a continuation of the general prohibition on holders of West Bank and Gaza identification cards, including UNRWA local staff, entering Israel and East Jerusalem. As in previous years, all Palestinians wishing to enter or transit through Israel or East Jerusalem have been required to apply for entry permits. The Israeli authorities have also required that local staff members be in possession of a magnetic card (for which a fee must be paid) proving that the person has received security clearance before he or she can qualify to receive entry permits. However, by the end of the reporting period, most of the magnetic cards that had been issued to local staff members residing in the West Bank had expired and had not been renewed, although applications for such renewals continued to be submitted. Furthermore, the entry permits specifically forbid the holder to drive in East Jerusalem or Israel, thus necessitating a special driving permit, in addition to the entry permit and magnetic card, if a local staff member is to drive. During the reporting period, the permit regime was tightened considerably and has become increasingly unreliable and unpredictable. In the West Bank, the Agency asked for entry permits for some 390 local staff members (out of a total staffing component of some 3,500) to enter East Jerusalem in order to work, of which at the high point only 234 were issued. Permits have been denied to local staff notwithstanding their having valid magnetic cards that were issued after the required security checks. At the end of the reporting period, virtually all permits had expired and the Agency had been informed by the Israeli authorities that Palestinians, including UNRWA local staff, would not be permitted to enter Israel or East Jerusalem and that, until further notice, entry permits for Palestinians would not be issued or renewed. In the Gaza Strip, no local staff were issued permits to enter Israel, save for a limited number of exceptional cases for which the Israeli authorities issued one-day permits. Also during the reporting period, the Israeli authorities continued their refusal to issue any driving permits to local staff in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including to those local staff members whose work primarily involves driving.
146. Erez checkpoint. As during the previous reporting period, generally only international staff members were permitted to cross the Erez checkpoint, which is the principal point of non-commercial transit between Israel and the Gaza Strip. All UNRWA vehicles, except those in which the holder of a United Nations laissez-passer with a diplomatic visa was driving or riding, continued to be subjected to both internal and external searches, including the X-raying and inspection of staff members’ luggage. The search procedures originally started in March 1996 with a “light” visual inspection of the exterior of the vehicle and under the hood and in the trunk. The Agency agreed at that time to permit such an inspection as an exceptional, pragmatic and temporary measure made in good faith in the light of Israel’s security concerns in the circumstances then prevailing. Notwithstanding the Agency’s frequent protests since that time, the search of vehicles and luggage by the Israeli authorities has become standard operating procedure and more extensive, intrusive and time-consuming. The search now requires the UNRWA driver to drive the vehicle onto a special inspection platform, to remove all luggage, and to allow an Israeli inspector with specially treated gloves to get into the vehicle and to search it thoroughly inside and out. The gloves are then taken to a separate building to be tested for traces of explosives. In late April 2002, the Israeli authorities began to insist on conducting “light” searches of vehicles in which holders of United Nations laissez-passer with diplomatic visas were travelling, initially on the grounds that specific information received by the authorities necessitated the search. Although UNRWA has protested this new procedure, UNRWA was informed at the end of May 2002 that the new procedure was being made permanent for all holders of United Nations laissez-passer with diplomatic visas. The “light” search is also applied to all other UNRWA vehicles prior to their being allowed to proceed to the more intrusive search described above. On one occasion during the reporting period, the Israeli authorities at the Erez crossing insisted on X-raying and searching the diplomatic pouch. The staff members carrying the pouch returned to the Gaza Strip rather than submit to such a search.
147. Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge. A significant impediment to UNRWA operations during the reporting period was the new search procedure introduced in September 2001 for UNRWA vehicles crossing from Jordan into the West Bank at the Allenby Bridge. Under the new procedure, which applies to vehicles other than those in which the holder of a United Nations laissez-passer with a diplomatic visa is travelling, UNRWA vehicles are required to be separated from their drivers and other occupants and are taken to a segregated, closed-off area where the vehicles are searched out of sight of the Agency drivers and occupants. UNRWA has not agreed to this separate inspection procedure for reasons of both principle and security. In principle, the search procedures contravene the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. In respect of security, the Agency has concerns about searches being conducted out of sight of the United Nations officials to whom the vehicles have been entrusted. As a consequence of the new procedures at the Allenby Bridge, the Agency has been compelled to rely on cumbersome alternative measures, including using senior staff with diplomatic status on an ad hoc basis to transport the Agency’s diplomatic pouch. Furthermore, the new procedures have caused disruption to the functioning of Agency committees that require senior officials from the Amman headquarters to meet face to face with colleagues in the Gaza headquarters or the West Bank field office in Jerusalem. In addition, international staff members travelling on official business who hold United Nations laissez-passer with service visas, including Agency couriers carrying the UNRWA official pouch to and from the Agency’s headquarters in Amman, are often obliged, as they transfer from an Agency vehicle on one side of the bridge to another Agency vehicle on the other side, to use a VIP courier service to cross the bridge itself, at the additional cost of $65 for a three-kilometre journey. UNRWA has protested to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs with respect to those procedures and has sought practical solutions to the impasse, including requesting that the Agency couriers, who normally carry the UNRWA pouch, and their vehicles be accorded the same treatment as that given to holders of diplomatic United Nations laissez-passer and their vehicles. UNRWA also requested that, if a full search is required for an UNRWA vehicle in an off-site facility, it be carried out in the presence of a United Nations staff member. However, at the close of the current reporting period, no progress had been made on those issues. In addition to the new procedures imposed on holders of laissez-passer with service visas, new “light” search procedures have been introduced for vehicles in which holders of laissez-passer with diplomatic visas are travelling, which had previously been exempt from search. The Agency has also protested against the new procedures.
148. Gaza International Airport and the Rafah crossing. On many occasions during the reporting period, the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was closed for a number of days at a time or was open only during severely restricted hours or for a limited number of vehicles per day. This crossing generally remained the only point of exit from the Gaza Strip that was available for UNRWA local staff travelling on official business to the Agency’s other fields of operations. The damage to, and closure of, Gaza International Airport and the large number of people attempting to cross from the Gaza Strip into Egypt via Rafah has caused staff members to experience considerable inconvenience and delays, which, together with the additional distance involved in having to go by air from Cairo, greatly increased their travel time and expenses, with adverse consequences on the Agency’s operations.
149. International drivers. As a result of the prohibition on local staff with Gaza or West Bank identification cards driving in Israel, UNRWA has had to retain, at considerable cost to the Agency, the two international drivers employed during the last reporting period in order to maintain, inter alia, the pouch and courier services for its Gaza headquarters and field operations. The severe restrictions imposed on Agency local staff travelling in the West Bank, and fears for their safety following incidents in which UNRWA local staff members were arrested by Israel Defense Forces without apparent reason, compelled the Agency, in March and April 2002, to reassign international staff members away from their normal duties to accompany humanitarian convoys in the distribution of urgently needed food and medicine throughout the West Bank. At the end of April 2002, a donor provided the Agency with a 12-person team, consisting of eight truck drivers and four mechanics, as a temporary measure to help the Agency deliver emergency humanitarian supplies to destinations in the West Bank and to maintain and repair the Agency’s vehicle fleet in the absence of local staff who, because of closures and curfews, were not able to reach their work places in the West Bank field office in Jerusalem.
150. International staff with local residency. As was the case during the previous reporting period, international staff members holding Jerusalem, West Bank or Gaza Strip identity cards continued throughout the reporting period to be refused service visas by the Israeli authorities.
151. Employment of local staff members in the Syrian Arab Republic. During the reporting period, the Syrian authorities objected to the employment of 18 local staff members on unspecified security grounds. Six of the 18 persons were later granted security clearance.
B. Agency services and premises
152. Provision of services. In the Agency’s view, the increased restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on the freedom of movement of the Agency’s personnel, vehicles and goods during the reporting period are not consistent with the applicable principles of international law, including the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the 1967 Comay-Michelmore Agreement. The Agreement, inter alia, requires the Government of Israel to facilitate the Agency’s operations to the “best of its ability”. The Israeli authorities and the Agency have not been able to agree on the scope or application of the consideration of military security to which this obligation has been subject. Rather than facilitate the Agency’s operations, increased restrictions seriously disrupted the provision of Agency services in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the reporting period. In March and April 2002, when the need was most urgent, the movement of United Nations humanitarian convoys in and out of cities, towns, villages and refugee camps became increasingly difficult owing to the heavy Israeli military presence, ongoing curfews, closures and long delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. Since February 2002, Agency convoys carrying humanitarian aid were often denied access, sometimes for extended periods, to locations in which the civilian population was in urgent need.
153. Access to health service installations in the West Bank during the reporting period was impeded by measures taken by the Israel Defense Forces that made travelling between towns and villages in the West Bank difficult for both patients and staff and interfered with the provision of humanitarian medical supplies and assistance. Hospitals in particular suffered shortages of medicines, food, water, fuel, oxygen and other essentials. In addition, extensive damage to infrastructure, including electrical networks, water pipes and sewage facilities in West Bank cities created significant immediate health hazards. Owing to the restrictions on movement, the Agency was severely hampered in its efforts to repair the damaged infrastructure in a timely manner. The provision of medical services in the Gaza Strip was also affected during the reporting period, as medical staff and
health workers, including cardiological, paediatric, gynaecological and ophthalmic specialists, were often unable to reach their health centres, particularly in the middle and southern areas. Supplies of medical goods and oxygen became very limited during the reporting period. In addition to its emergency relief operations, the UNRWA regular relief programmes were repeatedly disrupted. As a result of UNRWA distribution teams being either delayed or turned back at checkpoints, delivery of food was often postponed for a week or cancelled. Families registered with UNRWA as special hardship cases (for the most part, the elderly, widows, orphans and the infirm), who rely on the Agency for their basic food needs, found such delays particularly onerous. In areas where extended curfews were in force, including Bethlehem and Ramallah, there were severe shortages of food and water. In the Gaza Strip, UNRWA has had increasing difficulty in gaining access for social workers, medical teams and food distribution teams to assist poor Palestinian families living in closed areas such as the El Mawasi area and the Palestinian area near the Dugit and Alai Sinai settlements. Prior to mid-March 2002, the Agency had succeeded in gaining such access to the El Mawasi area on only four occasions and to the Dugit/Alai Sinai area twice. Since that time, those areas have been under complete closure, and UNRWA social workers and medical teams have been unable to assist any families living there. Even Agency trucks carrying badly needed foodstuffs have not been allowed entry, depriving those families of basic nutritional needs. UNRWA educational programmes were also severely affected, particularly during the second half of the reporting period, by the inability of teachers and students to reach Agency schools and training centres in the occupied Palestinian territory.
154. The Karni crossing. The blanket prohibition on UNRWA trucks moving into and out of the Gaza Strip that was imposed during the previous reporting period continued during the current reporting period. UNRWA continued to route its commercial shipments into and out of the Gaza Strip through the Karni crossing until the end of March 2002. The normal procedure required by the Israeli authorities for cargoes coming into the Gaza Strip is that all goods (other than those in sealed containers) must be unloaded from the Israeli truck onto the ground, undergo a security check and then be loaded “back-to-back” onto a Palestinian truck, which is then allowed into the Gaza Strip. The Agency has rejected this procedure, both as a matter of principle and because of the extra cost, delay and spoilage involved. The Agency has reluctantly, and as a temporary and ad hoc measure, accepted the “hook-unhook” procedure for containerized cargoes, as a matter of necessity, in order that it may gain access into the Gaza Strip for its much needed humanitarian supplies. This procedure involves unhooking the trailer, on which normally two sealed containers are carried, from the Israeli tractor and re-hooking it to a Palestinian tractor on the Gaza side of the crossing. A transit charge of NIS 150 for a 20-foot container and NIS 200 for a 40-foot container is collected by the Israeli authorities as part of the process. The Agency’s view is that the charge is, in effect, a tax from which the Agency should be exempted by virtue of its privileges and immunities. The matter was further complicated when periodic closures of the Karni crossing, and particularly a total closure for containerized cargoes using the hook-unhook method from 29 March to mid-May 2002, resulted in a large backlog of containers at the Ashdod port that were destined for the Gaza Strip. By mid-May, there were 348 containers at Ashdod waiting to be moved to the Gaza Strip, and 70 empty containers inside the Gaza Strip, together with their trailers, unable to return to Israel. That situation resulted in additional expense to the Agency in excess of $450,000 in extra storage and demurrage charges. During the same period, UNRWA was also unable to import its normal stocks of diesel fuel and petrol and was forced to cancel its normal emergency food distribution in May. Since mid-May 2002, the Israeli authorities have permitted the Agency to use the Sofa crossing, in the south of the Gaza Strip, which had previously been used mainly for building materials, to bring in containerized cargoes of humanitarian supplies (that is, food and medicine) and to take empty containers and trailers back to Israel. By the end of the reporting period, the backlog of containers at Ashdod had been cleared, and the Agency was able to resume its emergency food distributions in the Gaza Strip. Fuel imports had also resumed through the Karni crossing. Agency shipments of general cargo (such as, office supplies and equipment and vehicle spare parts) were being allowed through Karni by a new method, involving the transfer of containers by forklift from Israeli tractors to Palestinian tractors. However, the Israeli authorities were not allowing empty containers out through Karni, and at Sofa they were only allowing the same number of containers out as had come in through Sofa.
155. Ashdod port. The Agency experienced considerable difficulty and incurred additional expense during the reporting period owing to procedures introduced at the Ashdod port in December 2001 that require every UNRWA shipment to be checked by the Israeli authorities before being cleared by Israeli customs officials. This involves the X-raying of samples from approximately 5 per cent of the containers in each consignment. The sample is unloaded from its container, taken to a separate area where it is X-rayed, then loaded back into the original container. The procedure results in increased delays and in the payment of additional loading, storage and demurrage fees, for which the Agency has requested and been denied reimbursement by the Israeli authorities. For goods coming from certain countries, the security check and the X-ray procedure may cover 100 per cent of the cargo.
156. Passage through checkpoints. Instead of being accorded priority as requested by the Agency, UNRWA vehicles carrying Agency staff members within the occupied Palestinian territory were regularly stopped at checkpoints, often for extended periods of time, while checks and searches were carried out. On a number of occasions, while passing through checkpoints, staff members were abused and even physically assaulted. For instance, on 4 March 2002, three staff members were forced out of their vehicle at the Homesh checkpoint, threatened with weapons, searched and physically assaulted by Israel Defense Forces soldiers. During this incident, the soldiers also searched the truck and destroyed medicine and food parcels. The Agency has protested those incidents to the Israeli authorities, expressed its concerns for the safety of its staff and asked that the incidents be investigated and that appropriate disciplinary action be taken against the Israel Defense Forces soldiers involved. As of the end of the reporting period, however, there had been no response from the Israeli authorities to those requests.
157. Searches of vehicles and goods. In addition to the search procedures at the Erez and Allenby Bridge crossings and at Ashdod port discussed above, the Israeli authorities in the West Bank have demanded to search UNRWA vehicles operating in the area with increased frequency. It is the Agency’s policy to refuse such demands and to protest against such searches when they occur. Nevertheless, the Agency has on occasion submitted to searches, under protest, either because local staff were threatened or because vehicles carrying urgently needed humanitarian supplies or on other urgent missions would otherwise have been denied access to a given area. There were two incidents during the reporting period when it was reported by staff members that Israel Defense Forces soldiers placed items in UNRWA vehicles after requiring staff members to submit to a search. On 17 September 2001 at the Shevi Shamron checkpoint, during a search of an Agency vehicle, an Israel Defense Forces soldier placed a bullet in the vehicle. This followed an incident at the same checkpoint on 4 September 2001 in which it was reported to UNRWA by UNDP that an Israel Defense Forces soldier had claimed that he found a bullet while searching a UNDP vehicle. On 7 March 2002, at Bizaria Junction, an Israeli soldier in the course of a search of an UNRWA vehicle placed a knife in the ve hicle. In each instance, the Israel Defense Forces soldiers tried to accuse the United Nations staff members of carrying weapons or ammunition in their vehicles. Fortunately, in each case, the United Nations staff members had clearly observed the soldier’s actions, were able to reject the accusations out of hand and, after argument, were allowed to proceed on their way. The Agency protested the incidents involving UNRWA staff members and vehicles to the Israeli authorities and requested an investigation, but as of the end of the reporting period there had been no reply from the Israeli authorities.
158. Construction projects. From the beginning of April 2002, most construction projects in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip were delayed or stopped altogether due to the restrictions on movement of personnel, vehicles and goods as well as owing to a lack of construction materials. In the West Bank, for example, there were 16 construction projects under way in the reporting period with a combined budget of $5.9 million that were partially stopped. Owing to closures, violence and a lack of building materials, the construction projects fell behind schedule by a total of 1,971 days. In the Gaza Strip, 18 construction projects with a budget of $2.2 million were completely stopped during the reporting period, and 49 other projects with a budget of $10.13 million were partially stopped.
159. The operations support officer programme. The operations support officer programme, which was introduced during the last reporting period, was designed to assist the Agency in alleviating the adverse effects that the restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities were having upon the provision of humanitarian services and in enhancing the operational effectiveness of the Agency’s ongoing programmes. The programme, which operates in the West Bank, played an invaluable role during the current reporting period in facilitating access of staff members and UNRWA vehicles, including ambulances and humanitarian convoys, through checkpoints, particularly during the Israeli military operations in the West Bank from the beginning of February 2002 until the end of the reporting period. The regular complement of five international staff members from the programme was assisted during the months of April and May 2002 by a number of international staff from UNRWA and other United Nations and international agencies in delivering humanitarian assistance in the West Bank. The presence of international personnel during the period became of critical importance when it was no longer safe for UNRWA local staff to participate in the humanitarian convoys following a number of incidents in which local staff members were arrested, beaten or threatened by the Israeli military. At the close of the reporting period, the Agency was considering plans for the further expansion of the programme, with a view to covering the Gaza Strip.
160. Armed interference; interference with ambulances and medical teams. The Agency has been particularly concerned at the increased level of armed interference with UNRWA personnel and vehicles by members of the Israel Defense Forces during the reporting period. Staff members have had their UNRWA identification cards destroyed or confiscated and, in a number of cases, have been verbally abused, physically assaulted, shot at, and in one case killed. For instance, on 9 December 2001, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, for no apparent reason, stopped a local UNRWA staff member near the Fawwar camp, took his identification, and fired a sound bomb at him, hitting him in the leg. The soldiers detained the staff member for more than three hours before they allowed him to obtain medical attention at a nearby clinic. On 2 April 2002, an UNRWA convoy delivering urgently needed medical and food supplies to Ramallah hospital came under fire from the Israel Defense Forces despite having cleared its movements in advance with the relevant authorities. Among the actions the Agency regarded with the utmost concern were the restrictions placed on the movement of UNRWA ambulances and medical teams, as well as direct attacks on its ambulances and medical personnel. Despite close coordination with Israel Defense Forces liaison officers, access was often denied to UNRWA ambulances for days at a time. As a result, refugees did not obtain the medical treatment and medical supplies they urgently needed at the time. On several occasions, UNRWA ambulances were fired upon by Israel Defense Forces units. On 20 October 2001, while treating injured refugees in the Beit Jibrin camp near Bethlehem, an UNRWA medical officer was shot in the back and leg and an UNRWA ambulance driver was shot in the abdomen by Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Both staff members were wearing clearly identifiable United Nations vests. The ambulance itself, which was clearly marked with the distinctive United Nations insignia, was damaged in the incident. In many such instances where ambulances were fired upon, access had been specifically granted by the Israel Defense Forces. In one tragic case, on 7 March 2002, an UNRWA local staff member who was assisting an UNRWA medical team in Tulkarem was shot and killed by Israel Defense Forces while he was travelling in a clearly marked UNRWA ambulance that had received such prior clearance. On 8 April 2002, Israel Defense Forces soldiers opened fire at an UNRWA ambulance in Nablus, which had been granted clearance to proceed only minutes earlier. Two of the four UNRWA ambulances operating in the West Bank were damaged by Israel Defense Forces gunfire during the Israeli military operations in March and April 2002. One of the ambulances was temporarily disabled on two different occasions.
161. In addition, throughout the reporting period, there have been many instances when the safety of staff and students in schools and training centres operated by the Agency has been put at risk. For example, on 7 March 2002, Israeli planes bombed a Palestinian police compound adjacent to the Gaza Elementary “A & B” Co-ed School and two other UNRWA schools in Gaza City. The attack occurred at 9.00 a.m. when the three schools were filled with approximately 3,000 children and approximately 90 teachers. On 25 March 2002, Israel Defense Forces soldiers opened fire at UNRWA buses waiting to cross the Gush Qatif checkpoint. An UNRWA student standing beside one of the buses was struck in the head by a plastic coated metal bullet.
162. Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory continued to constitute a threat to the safety and security of Agency staff during the reporting period. There were several occasions where settlers harassed staff members in United Nations vehicles at checkpoints by shouting obscenities and threats, throwing stones or threatening staff members at gunpoint, sometimes in the presence of Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
163. There were some incidents during the reporting period of armed interference by the Palestinian security forces with UNRWA personnel, vehicles and installations. As an example, on 8 January 2002 an UNRWA staff member at the Agency Health Centre at Beach Camp in the Gaza Strip was seriously wounded by a bullet fired by a member of the Palestinian security forces. On 12 March 2002, an UNRWA ambulance was hit by two bullets fired by Palestinian policemen. The Agency strongly protested those incidents to the Palestinian Authority.
164. Incursions into installations. During the current reporting period as compared with the previous one, there was a significant increase in the number of incursions by the Israel Defense Forces into UNRWA installations in contravention of Israel’s obligations under international law. In the period from early March to the end of June 2002, the Israel Defense Forces forcibly entered and took over a number of UNRWA schools and other facilities for use as bases from which to conduct their military operations and, in the case of school compounds, as temporary detention centres for camp residents. For example, on 9 March 2002 in the Tulkarem refugee camp, some 400 Palestinian males were rounded up and detained in the UNRWA Girls’ School. Similarly, on 12 March 2002, Israeli army units occupied the Amari camp in the Ramallah/Al-Bireh area and forcibly entered the UNRWA Boys’ School with tanks. The school compound was used to detain scores of camp residents who were held at gunpoint in sitting positions with their hands on their heads. On 9 April 2002 the Israel Defense Forces forcibly entered the UNRWA Ramallah Men’s Training Centre, searched the premises and arrested and detained all of the 104 students and the principal. On 15 April 2002, the Israel Defense Forces forcibly entered and searched the Agency’s Kalandia Training Centre after an Israeli armoured personnel carrier broke through the front gate. The Israel Defense Forces commander on the scene stated to a senior UNRWA staff member present that the Israel Defense Forces had reliable information that there were armed persons hiding in the training centre with weapons. The staff and students were ordered to evacuate the building at gunpoint. The Israel Defense Forces then car ried out a thorough search of the premises as a result of which a number of doors were broken. At the conclusion of the search, after arresting and taking away to detention the entire student population, the Israel Defense Forces commander confirmed to the UNRWA senior staff member that his unit had not found any persons hiding in the centre, nor any weapons or explosives. On 11 June 2002, Israel Defense Forces forcibly entered the Ramallah Men’s Training Centre a second time, broke down one of the gates, carried out a search of the premises, which revealed nothing untoward, and arrested 42 students, three teachers and one labourer. During the Israeli military operation in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002, members of the Israel Defense Forces took over the UNRWA health centre for four days. After the withdrawal, many of the doors, windows, medical equipment, a dental chair, baby scales and refrigerators in which medicines were stored were found to be damaged or destroyed by gunfire. All clinic walls and doors, including interior walls, were riddled with bullet holes.
165. There were also some incursions into UNRWA facilities by Palestinian security personnel in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period. For instance, on 8 January 2002, three Palestinian security personnel entered an Agency health centre in pursuit of an UNRWA staff member. On 25 March 2002, three Palestinian policemen entered an UNRWA school in Beach Camp, and one of the policemen fired a bullet in the air.
166. The Agency has strongly protested to the Israeli and Palestinian authorities against such incursions. The Agency has long-established policies and procedures in place to deal with requests for carrying out searches of UNRWA installations and to cooperate with any reasonable investigation that might be required by police, military or judicial authorities. In certain locations in the Gaza Strip, for example Khan Younis, in order to ensure that Palestinian militants do not use UNRWA schools as bases from which to attack Israel Defense Forces units, the Agency requested and was provided with security guards for its schools from the Palestinian Authority.
167. Damage to UNRWA installations and vehicles. The Israel Defense Forces caused substantial damage to UNRWA installations during the reporting period. In the West Bank, some 40 installations, including many schools in refugee camps, for example in the Jenin, Askar, Balata and Aida camps, and several health clinics, such as those in Hebron and in the Jenin and Dheisheh refugee camps, were damaged by Israel Defense Forces actions. By the end of the reporting period, the estimate of total damage caused to Agency installations and vehicles by Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank was approximately $500,000. The Agency intends to seek compensation from the Government of Israel for the damage.
168. In the Gaza Strip, 26 UNRWA installations, including 16 UNRWA schools, were damaged by the Israel Defense Forces, many of them on more than one occasion. The damage occurred as a result of Israeli military gunfire or shelling of nearby Palestinian targets. For example, the Gaza Elementary “A & B” Co-ed School in Gaza City was damaged on six different occasions in the course of bombing and rocket attacks. The Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired in Gaza City was also damaged six times, including severe damage caused on 5 and 6 March 2002 by Israel Defense Forces bombing primarily aimed at an adjoining Palestinian police compound. The estimate of damage caused to UNRWA installations and vehicles in the Gaza Strip by Israeli military operations during the reporting period was approximately $80,000.
169. Israel has repeatedly stated that it is supportive of the mandate of UNRWA. The Agency is engaged in a continuing dialogue with the Government of Israel concerning the impediments and the many serious issues encountered by the Agency in carrying out its operations in the occupied Palestinian territory. It is hoped that this dialogue will lead to improvements in the situation.
C. Other matters
170. Functioning of headquarters. The operations of the Gaza headquarters of UNRWA have been adversely affected by Israeli restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNRWA local staff who are assigned to the headquarters. The new segregated search procedures instituted at the Allenby Bridge have also disrupted normal headquarters operations, including the courier and pouch services (see para. 146).
171. Legal advice and assistance. UNRWA continued to provide legal advice and assistance to refugees applying for family reunification in the Gaza Strip. However, since September 2000, the Israeli authorities have stopped receiving applications for family reunification. There are presently 400 such applications pending with the Israeli authorities that have been submitted by UNRWA through the Palestinian Liaison Committee. The Agency also continued to respond to requests for confirmation of refugee status from Palestinians and from governmental and non-governmental organizations.
172. Reimbursement of taxes and other charges. During the reporting period, the Agency was reimbursed only $550,144 by the Palestinian Authority for the VAT paid by the Agency. At 30 June 2002, the total amount outstanding for which the Agency was continuing to seek reimbursement from the Palestinian Authority was approximately $21.4 million. The Palestinian Authority has recognized that the reimbursement is due to the Agency. The Palestinian Authority also requested that the Israeli authorities pay directly to UNRWA the sum of $15 million stated to be owed by the Government of Israel to the Palestinian Authority. The Government of Israel, however, has not agreed to the Palestinian Authority’s request. Effective 1 January 2002, the Agency reached agreement with the Palestinian Authority that, for Agency contracts in the Gaza Strip of over $1,000 in value, the Agency would benefit from a “zero rating” for VAT purposes, so that it would no longer have to pay VAT on purchases of goods and services under these contracts. The Agency estimates that this will save it approximately $1.5 million in VAT payments on an annual basis. The Palestinian Authority has agreed that a similar regime can be instituted in the West Bank, and the Agency is pursuing the issue. The issue of reimbursement of port and related charges to the Agency by Israel remains unresolved. Since June 1994, in the case of cargo destined for the Gaza Strip, and January 1996, for cargo destined for the West Bank, UNRWA has been paying all such charges for Agency cargo arriving at the port of Ashdod and elsewhere in Israel, which were previously paid by the Israeli authorities. The Agency’s position is that the obligation to pay port and related charges remains with Israel pursuant to the terms of the 1967 Comay-Michelmore Agreement. The total amount of port charges due to the Agency at 30 June 2002 is approximately $7.5 million. Of this amount, additional storage and demurrage charges incurred because of the security procedures imposed by the Israeli authorities at the port of Ashdod and by the extensive closures of the Karni crossing that prevented the Agency from delivering goods from Ashdod to the Gaza Strip amounted to approximately $525,000. As mentioned in paragraph 154 above, the Israeli authorities are also imposing a transit charge in the nature of a tax on the Agency for use of the Karni crossing to bring goods into the Gaza Strip. The total amount of such transit charges paid by the Agency at 30 June 2002 was approximately $83,000.
173. During the reporting period, the Syrian authorities informed the Agency that they were considering the exemption of Agency vehicles from an annual charge for the issuance of carnets de passage. The exemption has been confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that confirmation was being conveyed to the appropriate government authorities. The Agency is also being required to pay port fees and charges to the Syrian authorities at the rates levied against resident organizations, which the Agency maintains is contrary to the 1948 Count Bernadotte Agreement. The matter remained unresolved at the end of the reporting period.
174. Restrictive procedures. In the Syrian Arab Republic, the Agency is required to submit its customs declaration forms with commercial invoices for endorsement by the Boycott Office. The Agency has taken the matter up with the Syrian authorities on the grounds that UNRWA should not be subjected to this requirement. With respect to the importation of vehicles, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has confirmed that there is no limitation on the number of vehicles that UNRWA may import for the purpose of carrying out its operations. However, in practice, the Syrian authorities have made the importation of new vehicles contingent on the deletion of the records of existing vehicles, on a one-for-one basis. While the period between the deletion of one vehicle and the importation of another has now been significantly reduced from the previous three-month delay the Agency was experiencing, this practice still represents a de facto limitation. The Agency wishes to retain its right to import additional vehicles should new requirements arise. The Agency has again raised the issue with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic.
175. Elementary and preparatory schooling. The 190 Agency schools in Jordan accommodated 135,901 pupils in the six-year elementary cycle and four-year preparatory cycle in 2001/02, a decrease of 1,514 pupils (1.1 per cent) in 2001/02 compared with the previous academic year. The decrease in enrolment was attributed to several factors, such as the movement of refugee families from Jordan to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the transfer of refugee pupils from UNRWA schools to newly constructed government schools next to some refugee camps, the shorter school week in government schools (five days as compared with six days in UNRWA schools), and the predominance of a single shift in government schools.
176. Education infrastructure. The poor physical condition of many UNRWA school premises in Jordan continued to be of concern to the Agency. A total of 49 unsatisfactory rented schools accounted for 25.8 per cent of the 190 schools used by the Agency in the field. The reconstruction of one school building to replace two old and unsatisfactory rented school buildings is under way. Three water tanks and three canteens were constructed.
177. Special education. The special education project continued to provide services to children with learning difficulties in the elementary cycle, and included 81 deaf children, one blind child, 650 low achievers and slow-learning pupils and 772 pupils who needed remedial classes during the academic year 2001/02.
178. Vocational and technical training. A total of 1,250 trainees, including 483 women, were enrolled in 16 trade courses and 11 technical/semi-professional courses at the Amman training centre and the Wadi Seer training centre during the 2001/02 academic year. Technical/semi-professional trainees maintained excellent results in the comprehensive examinations for community colleges administered by the Jordanian Balqa Applied University in July 2001, attaining pass rates of 99.34 per cent at the Amman centre and 91.34 per cent at the Wadi Seer centre, as compared with the national average of 61 per cent in corresponding subjects.
179. Educational science faculty. The educational science faculty at the Amman training centre provided pre-service training for 402 UNRWA students, including 312 women. During the reporting period, 197 teachers graduated from the in-service programme in 2000/01 and 91 students graduated from the pre-service programme, all of whom were awarded an accredited bachelor’s degree in education.
180. University scholarships. In 2001/02, 50 scholarships, 22 of which were held by female students, continued from previous years.
181. Primary care. UNRWA health care for Palestine refugees in Jordan was delivered through 23 primary health-care facilities, all of which provided family planning and laboratory services. A total of 17 facilities provided special care for non-communicable diseases, and one operated radiology and physiotherapy units. Dental care was offered at 20 facilities, in addition to three mobile dental units which provided school and community oral health care. Specialist care in obstetrics and gynaecology was provided through a weekly rotating schedule, whereby pre-screened patients were referred by medical officers for further assessment and management by specialists. Many refugees in Jordan utilized more easily accessible government primary health-care services. Out of six primary health-care facilities providing preventive maternal and child health-care services, three were upgraded to comprehensive health centres providing the full range of preventive and curative services.
182. Secondary care. Assistance towards secondary care was provided through a reimbursement scheme, which partially covered medical expenses incurred by refugees for emergency treatment at government hospitals. Owing to the high demand on the reimbursement scheme, generated by increased socio-economic hardship and an increase in hospitalization costs, the terms of assistance were revised and additional budget provisions were allocated.
183. Cooperation with the Government of Jordan. The long-standing cooperation between UNRWA and the Jordanian Ministry of Health continued to cover a wide range of public health activities, including immunization, surveillance of communicable diseases, tuberculosis control, development of human resources for health, quality assurance of essential drugs, participation in national immunization campaigns against poliomyelitis and measles and in-kind donations of vaccines used in the expanded programme on immunization. UNRWA also collaborated with the primary health-care initiative project funded by a donor in the areas of research on utilization of services provider and client satisfaction conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health also met the Agency’s requirements of contraceptive supplies as well as the quadruple hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus vaccine and the haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine, which were newly introduced in the national expanded programme on immunization, as in-kind contributions.
184. Refugee registration. As at 30 June 2002, 1,679,623 persons were registered with UNRWA in Jordan. This number reflected a 2.4 per cent increase compared with the previous reporting period, and was in line with current rates of population growth. Jordan hosts 42.3 per cent of all registered refugees and thus constitutes the largest of the five UNRWA fields of operations.
185. Special hardship programme. At the end of June 2002, the number of persons enrolled in the special hardship programme was 43,744, representing 2.6 per cent of the registered population, whereas the overall Agency-wide average was 5.77 per cent. That relatively low percentage in part reflected access to government services to which the majority of the refugees were entitled by virtue of their status as Jordanian citizens. However, with unemployment in Jordan during the reporting period hovering around 30 per cent and with approximately 30 per cent of the population including refugees living below the poverty line, the demands on programme services continued to rise. While the Jordan field was able to increase the number of families registered as special hardship cases by 3.25 per cent, hundreds of other applicants could not be assisted due to insufficient donor support for both the food and cash subsidy components.
186. Selective cash assistance. A sum of $93,354 was allocated as direct cash assistance to 758 refugee families facing financial crises or lacking basic socio-economic necessities owing to exceptional unforeseen circumstances. Private donations were received and earmarked for scholarships and assistance to special hardship families.
187. Shelter rehabilitation. During the reporting period, 135 shelters occupied by special hardship families were repaired or reconstructed with donor assistance, 26 of which were on a self-help basis and the remaining on a contractual basis.
188. Poverty alleviation. The Jordan field adopted three diversified programmes to alleviate poverty among the Palestine refugees, through two different funding sources. The Agency’s general fund provided cost-sharing grants targeting special hardship families and the special non-regular project funds provided loans for potential entrepreneurs from a wider range of socio-economic backgrounds. The self-support programme led to the sum of $227,972 being utilized for 82 grants to special hardship families to support the establishment and running of small businesses. All clients were required to contribute 15 per cent of the total value of the grants, thereby demonstrating the willingness and ability to assume some cost-sharing responsibility in the business venture. The complementary poverty alleviation schemes, consisting of the Group Guaranteed Lending and microcredit for women’s products, were funded by various donors. The two schemes were implemented successfully by the local committees in cooperation with the Bank of Jordan. The Group Guaranteed Lending scheme in the Jerash and Husn camps proved an effective step towards the establishment of a community banking initiative by tailoring a new loan product to individuals who were not members of formal credit groups. The income generation programme provided credit ranging from $700 to $l0,000 for new and established businesses. A newly adopted microcredit scheme (offering a maximum of $700) had facilitated the granting of credit to disadvantaged refugees by replacing the two guarantors (collateral) system with a certified cheque submitted by the borrowers in favour of the Bank of Jordan as the Bank administers the programme portfolio. The total number of income generation loans disbursed during the reporting period was 56 for a total amount of $192,869. The total number of new microcredit loans was 76, for a total amount of $53,772.
189. Women in development. The diverse activities offered at the women’s programme centres continued to provide a wide range of skills-training activities, cultural, educational and recreational initiatives and legal services. A Creative Learning Centre for children was established at the Jerash women’s programme centre with donor support to encourage refugee children to develop and express themselves through theatre, arts and comprehensive computer skills. A cultural and social development project for children and adolescents was established at the Marka women’s programme centre, also with donor assistance, to mitigate the effect of forced migration on children and adolescents. The UNICEF Early Childhood Development Project was successfully implemented by the Agency and 11 other national participating partners in Jordan, reaching 10 per cent of parents and caregivers with children through the age of eight. A joint project involving the Agency, the Government of Jordan and other donors was designed to meet the training needs of women computer instructors at the national level, including those in the women’s programme centres.
190. Community-based rehabilitation. The plan to replicate the pilot community-based rehabilitation model of Jerash and Zarka in other locations was suspended as a result of the conditions of strife in the West Bank, from where resource personnel were to travel to Jordan. The relief and social services programme produced a technical paper on strategies for successful community-based rehabilitation pilot projects in Jerash and Zarka camps and it was publicized to serve as a model for other NGOs in Jordan seeking to improve their methods of providing services for the disabled. Two sets of training workshops were conducted at the community rehabilitation centres to upgrade the technical quality of services provided for the disabled.
191. Elementary and preparatory schooling. In the 2001/02 academic year, the 74 UNRWA pre-secondary schools in Lebanon accommodated 39,884 pupils in the six-year elementary cycle and three-year preparatory cycle. Enrolment did not increase in the elementary and the preparatory cycle. In the annual brevet examination for students at the third preparatory level held in July 2001, pupils in Agency schools attained a pass rate of 49.30 per cent, compared with 67.77 per cent in government schools. In the 1998/99 academic year, the Government of Lebanon introduced the first phase of a new three-phase curriculum. UNRWA adopted the changes, including the introduction of new subjects and secured funds for the new textbooks and the additional teachers needed. During 1999/2000, the second phase was introduced in UNRWA schools. During 2000/01, the third phase of the new Lebanese curriculum was introduced.
192. Secondary schooling. Lebanon remained the only field in which UNRWA offered secondary-level education on a limited scale to address the problem of restricted access for Palestine refugees to government schools, and because the refugees could not afford the high costs of private schools. There were five secondary schools: the Galilee school in Beirut, the Bissan school in Saida, the Al-Aqsa school in Tyre, the Nazareth school in the north, and Qastal school in Beqa’a. The construction of the premises of the Al-Aqsa school was completed in February 2002. The Galilee, Bissan and Al-Aqsa schools’ pass rate was 73.90 per cent for the official general secondary examination as opposed to the general result of 81.28 per cent in private and official schools.
193. Education infrastructure. Work was in progress in one school building at the Siblin training centre to replace two unsatisfactory rented schools. Construction was completed on two schools, three classrooms and two specialized rooms. High proportions (45.6 per cent) of schools in Lebanon were housed in unsatisfactory rented premises. The small size of the classrooms available in rented buildings kept the classroom occupancy rate relatively low (31.72 pupils). Since the Agency is not allowed to replace rented schools outside the camps with Agency-built schools, the Agency’s education programme continued to exert efforts to find suitable premises.
194. Vocational and technical education. The Siblin training centre provided vocational and technical training for 652 trainees, of whom 161 were women, in 14 trade courses and seven technical/semi-professional courses.
195. Pre-service teacher training. The total enrolment in the teacher training section at the Siblin training centre was 147 students, of whom 112 were women. Utilizing a curriculum designed by UNRWA, 51 students graduated from the course in August 2001 and all of them were employed by the Agency.
196. Kindergartens. The four French-language kindergartens funded by a donor continued to operate, with 202 children enrolled in the 2001/02 academic year.
197. University scholarships. In 2001/02, 21 scholarships, five of which were obtained by female students, continued from previous years.
198. Primary care. UNRWA remained the main provider of health care for the 387,000 refugees registered in Lebanon. Access to public sector health services was restricted by a public health infrastructure that was still developing, and refugees were for the most part unable to afford the high cost of private care. Agency services were provided through 25 primary health-care facilities, all offering family planning services, of which 24 offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, 17 provided dental care, 15 contained laboratories, four of which had radiological facilities, and 15 offered specialist care in cardiology, obstetrics and gynaecology.
199. Secondary care. Hospital care was provided for refugees in Lebanon through contractual arrangements with 14 private and Palestinian Red Crescent Society general hospitals, and one mental health institution. Steadily rising costs and the wide gap between the minimum needs of the refugee population and the resources available to UNRWA made the provision of sufficient hospital care a priority health concern in the field. Owing to especially difficult socio-economic conditions, refugees in Lebanon remained exempt from the co-payments in place in other fields, although co-payments were required for specialized life-saving treatment. It became evident during the reporting period that services could not be maintained within the limited funds received through special extrabudgetary contributions. A decision was therefore made to integrate the full hospitalization costs with the Agency’s regular budget, beginning in 2002.
200. Cooperation with the Government of Lebanon. UNRWA participated in national immunization days for the eradication of poliomyelitis in Lebanon in accordance with the WHO regional strategy, using vaccines donated by UNICEF. The Agency and the national tuberculosis control programme also maintained close cooperation on all aspects pertaining to implementation of WHO directly observed short-course treatment strategy, including epidemiological surveillance, management and follow-up. The National Thalassaemia Association continued to provide support towards the treatment of refugee children suffering from that particular congenital disease.
201. Environmental health infrastructure. During the reporting period, several water supply systems were upgraded with the installation of a submersible pump for the Beddawi camp’s water plant, the installation of main water collectors in the Wavel and Mia-Mia camp water plants and the rehabilitation of the main pipeline and construction of a new water supply line in Rashidieh camp. Action is under way for implementation of the last phase of the project for full mechanization of refuse collection and disposal involving the procurement of a tipper truck for carting rubble and debris from camps. The period of the financial agreement for the construction of se werage and water networks in five refugee camps at a cost of 8.75 million was extended until 30 June 2004 with donor consent.
202. Disease outbreak. An outbreak of mumps erupted in Nahr al-Bared camp, north Lebanon in October 2001 and continued throughout the first quarter of 2002. A total of 734 children between 5 and 14 years of age were affected, 55 per cent of whom had previously been immunized. This suggests that a single dose of the vaccine might not provide life-long immunity and that a second dose of the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine might be needed at school entry. The Agency’s Department of Health coordinated investigation and surveillance measures with the Ministry of Health in order to contain the outbreak and determine future strategies.
203. Refugee registration. As at 30 June 2002, the number of Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon was 387,043, with an increase of 1.06 per cent over the 30 June 2001 figure of 382,973. The amalgamation of ex-codes within nuclear family files was 31.2 per cent completed and the old index cards, which were used prior to introduction of the electronic database in the field, were amalgamated in 59,000 family files.
204. Special hardship programme. The UNRWA food aid package represented a significant supplement for the sustenance of impoverished refugee families. The number of large families with only one breadwinner with irregular income below the poverty threshold represented 25.1 per cent of the total number of families enrolled in the programme. Owing to fluctuations in currency exchange rates resulting in reduced fund balances during the last quarter of 2002, cash for food was lowered from $10 to $8.66 per beneficiary, thereby reducing total cash for food assistance by some $52,000.
205. Selective cash assistance. Cash in the amount of $99,910 was distributed to 1,050 families consisting of 4,333 persons for emergency needs at an average of $95 per family. An amount of $26,832 was distributed to 537 families consisting of 1,966 persons in special hardship in Beqa’a to cover the cost of heating fuel during severe weather conditions. An electronic database was introduced to monitor disbursement of cash to ensure timely response and maintain efficient delivery and management of the service.
206. Shelter rehabilitation. It is estimated that 25 per cent of the refugees enrolled in the special hardship programme in Lebanon, 2,580 families, live in shelters that do not meet minimum acceptable housing standards. Special contributions for shelter rehabilitation, in the value of $1,221,127, were used to repair shelters for 84 families consisting of 405 persons and to reconstruct shelters for 105 families consisting of 535 persons. Works were undertaken inside camps in north Lebanon, Beirut, the Beqa’a and Saida. Special permission from the Government of Lebanon was required to bring building materials into the Ein Hilweh camp, causing short delays in the commencement of projects. In the Tyre area, for the fourth year running, a ban by the Government of Lebanon on shelter repair and reconstruction remained in effect during the reporting period. Under the contractual basis, 13 contracts were issued to local Palestinian contractors to rehabilitate 160 shelters, thus providing employment for some 1,300 labourers from inside camps. The self-help approach was well received by the refugees. A total of 29 shelters were rehabilitated on a self-help basis to a total value of $155,770.
207. Social services. Donor contributions for human resources development facilitated the training of staff and of volunteers from community-based organizations. Training included courses on mediation and negotiating skills, basic counselling in social work, professional writing and training of trainers on community development.
208. Poverty alleviation. Most significant among the efforts of UNRWA to reduce poverty among the Palestine refugees in Lebanon was the microenterprise development programme. A total of 127,890 soft loans were issued to 30 entrepreneurs enrolled in the special hardship programme. Soft loans consisted of 40 per cent grants and 60 per cent loans with an interest rate of 10 per cent. Some 10 families repaid their soft loans during the reporting period and were removed from the ration rolls when their incomes rose above the threshold of special hardship. A total of 109 borrowers received loans ranging between $500 and $5,000, for a total amount of $346,300. Interest charged was at a flat rate of 10 per cent. Interest earned on loan repayments was $62,000, of which a part was used to cover the running cost of the programme and the balance redeployed to the revolving fund and issued as new loans. Short-term capital loans of up to $25,550 were issued during the reporting period to 27 borrowers. Repayment rates on all loans averaged 96 per cent.
209. Women in development. During the reporting period, attention focused on building the institutional capacity of the community committees that manage the women’s programme centres in camps. A memorandum of understanding regulated the relationship between UNRWA and the committees and governed the use of UNRWA premises by the committees. UNRWA maintained its financial support for the committees, and small subsidies were issued to the committees to cover part of their running costs. Technical support continued, particularly in monitoring the application of management performance standards and indicators of key administrative functions in the committees. Skills training courses offered at the centres attracted 2,686 participants. Special classes for students who were slow achievers at school were popular and attracted 951 participants. In coordination with NGOs and other Agency departments, awareness-raising sessions were organized for groups of women on a variety of subjects. A total of 11,404 persons participated in recreational, social and cultural community activities. A sum of $14,400 was allocated towards additional skills training courses in six women’s programme centres to facilitate the admission of women living in economic hardship who otherwise would not have been able to enrol and to extend Group Guaranteed Lending loans in the Beddawi, Nahr al-Bared and Burj Barajneh women’s programme centres.
210. Community-based rehabilitation. Efforts to strengthen and develop the community-based approach for rehabilitation of the disabled continued during the reporting period. In cooperation with local and international NGOs, strategies were designed and employed to sensitize local communities to the needs of the disabled and to mobilize community resources to respond to their needs. UNRWA community development social workers referred persons with disabilities to service providers within the community. A total of 2,345 persons were assisted through outreach activities, prosthetic devices were distributed, adaptation of the physical environment to enhance accessibility was undertaken, and over 225 mothers and married women attended awareness-raising sessions on prevention of disability. Representatives of 17 local NGOs attended workshops organized by UNRWA to prioritize the needs of disabled pre-schoolers through participatory diagnosis. Technical and financial support continued to be provided for community rehabilitation centres in the Nahr al-Bared camp, where 65 children with mental, hearing and speech disabilities were enrolled. The inclusion of children with visual impairments in mainstream education gained momentum during the reporting period. In addition to six visually impaired students enrolled in mainstream education in UNRWA schools in Tyre and Sidon, two were admitted to a school in the Nahr al-Bared camp in north Lebanon. In April 2002, UNRWA received a donation from an international NGO to cover part of the cost of the inclusion programme over a period of three years. In areas where community-based services were not available, UNRWA sponsored the rehabilitation of disabled children in specialized institutions.
211. Youth activities. A total of 880 children, 50 of whom were disabled, participated in a two-week summer camp and other summer activities organized field-wide by UNRWA, in partnership with local and international NGOs in July 2001.
Syrian Arab Republic
212. Elementary and preparatory schooling. In the 2001/02 academic year, the 111 administrative schools in the Syrian Arab Republic accommodated 64,406 pupils in the six-year elementary and three-year preparatory cycles. Enrolment in UNRWA schools in 2001/02 decreased marginally by 0.45 per cent compared with the preceding year. Approximately 92.8 per cent of the schools were working on a double-shift basis and 9.9 per cent were housed in unsatisfactory rented school buildings. The high pass rate of 95.50 per cent in the annual government examination for the third-year preparatory pupils, compared with 66.76 per cent in government school examinations conducted in mid-2001, was in part due to the Agency’s monitoring and control system. The system was based on continuous evaluation together with the development of remedial work.
213. Education infrastructure. The 111 administrative schools accommodated 64,406 students in 62 school buildings. Around 92.8 per cent of them operated on a double-shift basis.
214. Vocational and technical training. The Damascus training centre accommodated 827 trainees, of whom 187 were women. Trainees were enrolled in 13 trade courses and nine technical/semi-professional courses.
215. University scholarships. In 2001/02, 56 scholars, 18 of whom were women, continued their studies from previous years.
216. Primary care. Health care was provided for Palestine refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic through the Agency’s network of 23 health centres, all of which provided comprehensive medical care, including mother and child health care and family planning services, and specialist care for diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Of those facilities, 19 housed laboratories and 12 offered dental services, supported by school oral health services through a mobile dental unit.
217. Secondary care. Hospital services were provided through contractual agreements with eight private hospitals based on minimal government rates. Additional budget provisions to meet the minimal needs for maintaining the service were allocated, effective for the year 2002.
218. Cooperation with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic. Long-standing cooperation and coordination between UNRWA and the Syrian Ministry of Health continued, especially in the areas of disease surveillance and control, and in national immunization campaigns against poliomyelitis. The Ministry met the Agency’s requirements of the quadruple diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine and provided hepatitis B vaccine as a single antigen. Cooperation was maintained with the national tuberculosis programme to coordinate disease surveillance and control activities on the basis of the WHO directly observed short-course strategy. Refugee children suffering from thalassaemia continued to be treated through the national thalassaemia control programme.
219. Environmental health infrastructure. Efforts continued to be exerted to raise funds for implementing two major development projects in the Syrian Arab Republic including the construction of water and sewerage systems at Ein-El-Tal as an integral part of the Nairab camp shelter rehabilitation project, improvement of water systems in Khan Eshieh and Khan Dannoun camps and construction of sewerage system in Khan Eshieh camp.
220. Refugee registration. At 30 June 2002, the number of Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in the Syrian Arab Republic stood at 401,185, an increase of 2.43 per cent over the 30 June 2001 figure of 391,651. A major effort to more effectively organize the family files (the ex-code project) was completed, after several years of sustained effort, in March 2002. In another effort, a pilot project to update the registration records related to refugees living in the village of Husseiniyeh was completed in June 2001.
221. Special hardship programme. The number of special hardship cases increased by 3.96 per cent, from 28,513 persons in June 2001 to 29,643 in June 2002. An exceptional “extra” increase of 932 rations was allotted from underutilization in other fields during the fourth quarter of 2001. In order to reduce the high caseload of social workers from 350-400 to 250 cases, 10 new social worker posts were established effective January 2002.
222. Selective cash assistance. During the reporting period, 547 families received assistance in the form of a cash grant averaging $86. The cash grants helped families to meet exceptional difficulties, especially when lacking basic necessities, and were used for various purposes, including the purchase of basic household items, schooling for children, clothing, accommodation and kitchen utensils. Among those assisted, nine families were victims of shelter fires.
223. Shelter rehabilitation. During the reporting period, 195 families benefited from shelter rehabilitation through special donor funding. Of those 185 shelters, 14 shelters were rehabilitated on a contractual basis, with the remainder using the self-help approach. An estimated 450 shelters needing urgent intervention are still on the waiting list (excluding the Nairab camp). In order to enhance and strengthen the staff members working on shelter rehabilitation, a two-day workshop was conducted in April 2002 to highlight the lessons learned from the implementation of shelter rehabilitation through the self-help approach. A feasibility study for the separate Nairab rehabilitation project that could rehouse 6,000 of 9,000 refugees in the Nairab camp, if fully funded, was concluded in December 2001 with the key results, and related funding requirements, presented to representatives of major donors in January 2002.
224. Poverty alleviation. At the end of the reporting period, the number of active individual loans stood at 280 and the number of loans under the Group Guaranteed Lending scheme stood at 688. During the reporting period, 102 new Group Guaranteed Lending loans were issued in Lattakia, for a total amount of $36,413. No new loans were issued elsewhere in the Syrian Arab Republic, as the programme continued to experience problems with repayments. Sustained efforts were made to provide the programme in the Syrian Arab Republic with new direction, among other things through the establishment of an advisory board, and to enhance capacity in the domain of microfinance.
225. Women in development. In all the 15 women’s programme centres, skills training courses in sewing, computers, fitness, video camera operation, hairdressing and ceramics were conducted and approximately 2,000 trainees graduated from the various courses. In addition, various other workshops and courses were organized on subjects including women’s rights, marriage, child education, counselling, training of trainers, community development, community-based organization planning, reporting skills, financial systems and managerial standards, literacy reinforcement for high school students, and the English language. Some other environmental, social and recreational activities were also organized. In the same line of cooperation, several seminars were conducted in coordination with UNHCR on gender and other social and legal issues. The Syrian Arab and Palestine Red Crescent Societies and the Syrian Women’s Federation provided first aid training courses at women’s programme centres. In cooperation with UNICEF, 10 individuals representing women’s programme centre management committees participated in a better parenting project. Group Guaranteed Lending schemes for women were established in 10 women’s programme centres. The two Yarmouk centres organized a first ever book exhibition for children.
226. Community-based rehabilitation. Several training courses for physiotherapists and rehabilitation workers were conducted in cooperation with an NGO. The courses aimed at training the participants in the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy and in the provision of training on a new teacher’s guidebook. A total of 145 orphans and disabled children between 8 and 12 participated in a summer camp organized by UNRWA in Tartous. A total of 81 persons with physical disabilities received donated wheelchairs. In a significant new development, 24 mentally challenged children from the Alliance and Dera’a community rehabilitation centres participated in the first Syrian Special Olympic Festival.
227. Elementary and preparatory schooling. UNRWA operated 95 schools in the West Bank, 34 for boys, 45 for girls and 16 co-educational. The schools accommodated 58,509 pupils, 43.8 per cent of whom were boys and 56.2 per cent girls. Enrolment in 2001/02 increased by 5.05 per cent compared with the academic year 2000/01.
228. Education infrastructure. UNRWA continued to experience difficulties in obtaining sites for school construction, particularly in Jerusalem. The classroom occupancy rate was relatively low (38.8 pupils) as a result of the relatively high proportion of schools accommodated in unsatisfactory rented premises (15.8 per cent) or located outside camps or in remote areas. Schools in the camps remained overcrowded. Three schools, 13 classrooms and four specialized rooms were constructed. One school, 41 classrooms and 18 specialized rooms were under construction.
229. Vocational and technical training. The three UNRWA vocational and technical training centres in the West Bank accommodated 1,141 trainees during the 2001/02 academic year, of whom 520 were women. The three centres offered 16 trade courses and 20 technical/semi-professional courses. Graduating UNRWA trainees attained a pass rate of 91.15 per cent at the Ramallah women’s training centre and 79.5 at the Ramallah men’s training centre in the 2001 comprehensive examination held by the Ministry of Higher Education, as compared with 67.28 per cent for all colleges in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, short-term courses lasting from 1 to 18 weeks in diverse disciplines were offered at the three centres for 202 trainees.
230. Educational science faculties. The two educational science faculties at the Ramallah men’s training centre and the Ramallah women’s training centre accommodated 624 students, of whom 416 were women, in a four-year pre-service teacher-training programme offered at the post-secondary level. A total of 61 students, including 27 women, graduated from the two faculties in July 2001.
231. University scholarships. In 2001/02, 28 scholarships, 19 of which were held by women, continued from previous years.
232. Operational constraints. The UNRWA education programme was affected by the continuing conditions of strife in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. UNRWA schools in the West Bank lost approximately 540 teaching days between September 2001 and March 2002 and approximately three weeks in April when the majority of Palestinian cities, towns and villages in the West Bank were subject to incursions by the Israel Defense Forces and curfew restrictions. The academic year was characterized by a considerable increase in access problems for UNRWA educational staff, due to curfews and the stringent restrictions on freedom of movement. From September 2001 to March 2002, 22,070 teacher school days have been lost. In March alone, during a period of 21 working days, 7,399 teacher school days were lost, an average of 352 teachers daily out of a total of 1,787 teachers. The loss of teacher school days in that month alone was 132 per cent of the total lost days during the entire 2000/01 academic year (5,585 days). Several UNRWA schools in the West Bank sustained considerable damage during Israeli operations. The most seriously affected schools were in the camps of Aida, Amari, Askar, Balata, Dheisheh, Jenin, Nurshams and Tulkarem. Some staff and pupils of Agency schools were also subjected to arrests and detention.
233. Primary care. Comprehensive primary health care was delivered to Palestine refugees in the West Bank through the Agency’s network of 34 primary health-care facilities, all of which offered family planning services and special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, in addition to the full range of preventive and curative medical care services. Of those facilities, 25 housed laboratories and 20 provided dental care, supported by a mobile dental unit for community oral health services. Six centres were equipped with radiological units and six provided physiotherapy services. Construction of new health centres to replace the unsatisfactory premises in the Balata, Dheisheh and Jenin camps was completed. However, those facilities were damaged during the Israeli military operations. In addition, the expansion of Qalqilia Hospital was completed with the help of project funds.
234. Cooperation at the national level. The Agency was represented in all national health committees established by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health, including the expanded programme on immunization, primary health care, reproductive health, brucellosis surveillance and control, tuberculosis control and health education. UNRWA also maintained close cooperation with local universities and international and local NGOs on various aspects relevant to the development of the health-care system and of human resources for health. The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health met UNRWA requirements for all vaccines used in the expanded programme on immunization as in-kind donations. Three additional mobile teams were established, additional medical equipment and supplies were provided and a programme of psychological counselling and support was established as an integral part of the programme of emergency humanitarian assistance, developed to meet the new needs and challenges posed by the conditions of strife in the West Bank.
235. Secondary care. In-patient care was provided through contractual arrangements with Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, St. John’s Ophthalmic Hospital, and seven other NGO hospitals in the West Bank, as well as directly by the Agency at its 43-bed hospital in Qalqilia. Partial reimbursement was also provided for expenses incurred by refugee patients at Maqassed Hospital, Jerusalem, for specialized care not readily available at the contracted hospitals, such as cardiac surgery. The Agency also reimbursed insurance premiums to cover cancer treatment for refugees holding West Bank identity cards. The level of co-payment for the cost of treatment stood at 25 per cent at contracted hospitals and 30 per cent through the reimbursement scheme. A 20-bed paediatric ward with radiology and physical rehabilitation units was constructed and equipped, as was a nursing dormitory at the UNRWA hospital in Qalqilia. Work was in progress for upgrading the casualty and emergency ward and catering section.
236. Operational constraints. The UNRWA health programme continued to face serious difficulties in the West Bank as a result of movement restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities, who cited security grounds, including limits on the number of travel permits issued to staff, which prevented staff from reaching their workplace and restricted patient access to hospitals in Jerusalem. Similarly, sanitation services were disrupted in some instances because garbage trucks could not reach camps. Border closures and restrictions on travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip made coordination and information exchange difficult.
237. Refugee registration. As at 30 June 2002, 626,532 Palestine refugees were registered with UNRWA in the West Bank, an increase of 3 per cent over the 607,770 refugees recorded as at 30 June 2001. The Registration Division witnessed a sharp increase (3 per cent) in the number of refugees updating their registration records as a result of conditions of strife in the occupied Palestinian territory. While the Division focused on that increase, it also continued the amalgamation of the ex-code process, which integrates the records of an original l948 refugee family with all other documents related to the nuclear families that descended from it. About 56 per cent of the total number of files had been amalgamated by the end of the reporting period.
238. Special hardship programme. Enrolment in the special hardship programme was 34,325 representing 5.48 per cent of the registered refugee population in the West Bank. Throughout the reporting period, the Agency continued to promote a holistic family approach for addressing the needs of poor refugees in and outside the camps. Through social casework, coordination and networking, staff aimed not only to meet basic family needs for food and shelter, but also to address problems that frequently underlie and compound poverty. As a result, additional community resources were mobilized for assistance to poor refugees in camps in general. A total of 92 male and female school dropouts from poor families were returned to schools, 11 drug addicts were placed under treatment, 34 poor refugee women joined literacy classes, and 895 poor women sought guidance on family planning at UNRWA health centres.
239. Selective cash assistance. A total of 279 families received cash assistance to help them overcome crisis situations; $53,130 was issued for this purpose. Assistance was provided towards the purchase of basic household items, schooling for children, clothing, accommodation, utilities and other emergency items.
240. Shelter rehabilitation. A total of 32 families were assisted in improving the condition of their shelters with donor funds. Rehabilitation work also commenced with an additional 41 needy families. The rehabilitation work under both projects was carried out on a self-help basis.
241. Poverty alleviation. The programme organized 32 awareness-raising meetings and workshops addressing poverty, in coordination with centres in several camps and in association with relevant Palestinian Authority departments, local NGOs and consultants. A total of 1,460 persons benefited from those activities. The programme also continued its focus on addressing poverty at the micro level through skills training. It offered training opportunities to 175 members of poor families during the reporting period in a variety of marketable skills such as aluminium works, computers, nursery services, secretarial work, carpentry, video recording, photography and montage and car repair. The programme continued to consult with 45 grass-roots organizations and groups in camps to develop feasibility studies for income generation projects. It also assisted some 130 poor families to develop business ideas and feasibility studies. Relief and social services staff participated in a conference on women and poverty and a conference addressing poverty resulting from the ongoing conditions of strife.
242. Women in development. The programme continued to emphasize empowerment of women, management and participation in women’s programme centres. Thirteen centres were located in refugee camps and two outside the camps. The centres represented one of the only venues for women’s activities in camps. They provided support services for working women who would otherwise be incapable of fully participating in and benefiting from the activities and courses, through well-established kindergartens, nurseries and child day-care facilities. Approximately 350 working women and 407 children benefited from these services on a regular basis. Development of existing kindergartens, nurseries and child day-care centres was carried out by the Am’ari and Askar women’s programme centres. Skills training and income generation activities continued during the period under review, creating an annual average of 186 employment opportunities at the centres and several hundred others in home settings. Advanced technical training courses were also initiated. The activities provided income for the centres as well as employment and income generation opportunities for women in the camp (an annual average of 57 employment opportunities at the centres an d several hundred others in home settings). About 2,823 women graduated from these skills training courses. All centres organized a wide range of awareness-raising initiatives in developmental and social issues, including women’s rights, civic education and democracy, gender, disability, crisis intervention and prevention, early and inter-family marriage, pregnancy, breastfeeding, family violence and abuse, childcare, schoolchildren and democracy, first aid, medical days, psychodrama, family planning, literacy training and food conservation. A variety of social, cultural and recreational activities were organized for women and children. A total of 27,223 women and 24,127 children participated in those activities. Women’s programme centres continued to develop their coordination and networking with local and international NGOs for funding of activities and projects, including construction. The promotion of democratic values, both at the women’s programme centres and through them, at the community level, continued to be a key objective, through facilitation and encouragement of democratic processes, actions and activities at the centres.
243. Community-based rehabilitation. The programme, through its community rehabilitation centres, promoted integration of physically/mentally challenged refugees into the socio-economic life of their communities. During the reporting period, 13 community rehabilitation centres provided basic rehabilitation services for 8,321 persons in their respective camps, including mainstreaming into regular schools, special education, prosthetic devices, awareness-raising, physiotherapy, training for the families of disabled people (in particular children), referrals to specialists, home modifications and outreach services. The toy libraries in seven community rehabilitation centres attracted both able-bodied and disabled children and made possible play opportunities that helped to make a positive change in children’s attitudes towards disability. The work of the speech therapy basic units in several community rehabilitation centres helped to reduce speech difficulties experienced by several children. The community-based research centres promoted working mechanisms with schools and social institutions in camps and coordination with Palestinian Authority departments and international NGOs. Ties with the families of disabled persons were further enhanced through regular meetings with them and exchanges of views on relevant subjects. The community rehabilitation centres contributed to efforts to promote the rights of the disabled through participation in most meetings of the Central National Committee for Rehabilitation and the various coordination committees established in the West Bank. The Department of Relief and Social Services provided technical and financial support to individual disabled persons as well as community rehabilitation centres. Staff paid home visits to disabled people to provide guidance and assistance. They also contributed to developing the capacity of the members of the local committees in managing and running their programmes effectively. The programme facilitated job training in the community rehabilitation centres for 13 students from the Ramallah women’s training centre’s social work department. A new donor-funded cerebral palsy project was established in the Jenin community rehabilitation centre during the reporting period to assist children suffering from cerebral palsy with their rehabilitation, treatment, social life and daily activity needs.
244. Youth activities. The youth activity centre in the West Bank continued to organize sports, recreational and educational activities for refugee youth and children with the participation and involvement of prominent community members. An estimated 8,100 youth participated in those activities. They also undertook community service, including clean-up campaigns, repair of camp roads and other infrastructure projects. Five youth activity centres were able to secure external funding for reconstruction or expansion of their centres.
245. Elementary and preparatory schooling. In the 2001/02 academic year, UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip accommodated 184,951 pupils in 169 schools in the six-year elementary and three-year preparatory cycles. The increase of 7,477 pupils (4.2 per cent) over the preceding academic year resulted from natural growth in the refugee population. At nearly 48.5 pupils per classroom, the classroom occupancy rate in the Gaza field was the highest Agency-wide.
246. Education infrastructure. With project funding, UNRWA completed the construction of three specialized rooms, three schools and 64 classrooms. As of mid-2002, eight school buildings, 86 classrooms and three specialized rooms were under construction during the reporting period.
247. Vocational and technical training. The Gaza training centre accommodated 820 trainees, including 133 women, in 14 trade courses and 8 technical/semi-professional courses.
248. University scholarships. In 2001/02, 42 scholarships, 26 of which were held by women, continued from previous years for students attending Middle Eastern universities.
249. Operational constraints. Owing to the ongoing conditions of strife in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the functioning of the Agency’s education programme in the Gaza Strip was subject to various constraints, including movement restrictions. Such restrictions led to approximately 337 teachers, 30 school supervisors and 29 head teachers and assistant head teachers not reaching their workplaces. The 184,951 pupils enrolled in the 169 UNRWA schools lost approximately 53,505 teaching days at a cost of $1,070,100 during the reporting period. In addition, 44 instructors, 12 administrative staff and 478 trainees were unable to report to the Gaza training centre. That resulted in 4,816 training days lost at a cost of $105,952 to the Agency. In addition, 36 UNRWA pupils were killed and 828 injured, some of whom sustained disabilities. Ten staff members working in the field office were unable to report to work as a result of mobility restrictions, which affected the smooth running of work at the field education programme. The Israeli operations caused substantial damage to UNRWA premises, and the Agency incurred substantial additional costs. The in-service training courses held at the Gaza field office were also interrupted. Remedial plans for low achievers and after-school activities were disrupted owing to the inability of students to attend. Construction of schools was also delayed owing to the inability to receive the construction materials needed.
250. Primary care. UNRWA remained one of the main providers of primary health-care services for the population of the Gaza Strip, of whom more than 80 per cent were Palestine refugees. Those services were delivered through a network of 17 primary health-care facilities, all of which offered a full range of medical services, including maternal and child health and family planning, 14 offered special care for the management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension and laboratory services, 11 provided dental services, supported by three mobile dental units for community oral health. Six facilities housed physiotherapy clinics and five facilities were equipped with radiological units. Approximately one fifth of the total registered deliveries in the Gaza Strip took place at six maternity units integrated within camp health centres. Specialist services in cardiology, chest diseases, gynaecology and obstetrics, ophthalmology and paediatrics were provided according to a weekly rotating schedule. The unique arrangement of a double-shift clinic at the health centres in the five largest camps was maintained since it proved to be the most cost-effective means to bridge the gap between the increasing needs of a rapidly growing population and limited Agency resources. Furthermore, additional health personnel were recruited, as part of the emergency employment creation programme, in order to meet the additional demand on UNRWA services as a result of the large-scale impoverishment and restrictions imposed on movement of the population.
251. Secondary care. Hospital services were provided through a contractual agreement with an NGO hospital, Al-Ahli in Gaza City, where 50 beds were reserved for refugee patients, as well as through partial reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by refugees for treatment at Palestinian Authority hospitals. Owing to funding shortfalls, the Agency could not utilize the services of the European Gaza Hospital, which became operational at the beginning of 2001, as originally agreed in the memorandum of understanding signed in October 1997 by the Ministry of Health, the European Community and UNRWA.
252. Environmental health infrastructure. UNRWA signed an agreement with a donor for funding environmental and sanitation projects, including the construction of the Deir El-Balah sewerage and drainage system, phase II and III and construction of the main open drain, replacement of corroded water supply pipes, and reconstruction of sanitation offices in Jabalia and Beach camps. Progress in implementation of funded development projects during the reporting period under the Special Environmental Health Programme comprised the pavement of roads and alleys in Bureij, Jabalia, Maghazi, Nusseirat and Rafah camps. These projects were progressing very slowly owing to the prevailing security situation. They were implemented as part of the job creation programme with community participation. The construction of a sewerage and drainage system at the Deir El-Balah camp, phase II, stage I, was completed. The project for development of Canada area in Tel El-Sultan, Rafah, was progressing slowly owing to the prevailing security situation. The contract for the Beach camp shore protection was signed in December 2001, and the project for the upgrading and mechanization of solid waste collection and disposal in Jabalia, Beach and Middle camps was completed. Five garbage trucks, four tractors and a road sweeper were procured and put into operation in October 2001. Manufacturing of 251 refuse containers of 1.0 m 3 capacity was completed in July 2001. Total investment in the environmental health sector in the Gaza Strip since the establishment of the special environmental health programme in 1993 amounts to $31.46 million. Projects planned for implementation, subject to availability of funds, are estimated at $11 million.
253. Cooperation at the national level. The Agency was represented in all national health committees of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health and participated in national immunization days and jointly pursued a programme for control of non-communicable disease. The Ministry of Health continued to provide UNRWA with the required vaccines for the expanded programme on immunization as an in-kind contribution.
C. Relief and social services
254. Refugee registration. The number of Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in the Gaza Strip increased from 852,626 as at 30 June 2001 to 878,977 as at 30 June 2002. This is an increase of 3.09 per cent over the previous year and it represents 22.1 per cent of all the registered refugees. Continuing its registration verification role, the eligibility and registration office checked the refugee status of 9,541 persons who applied for UNRWA services and responded to separate requests from various organizations to verify the refugee status of those applying for asylum or other services.
255. Special hardship programme. During the reporting period, the number of special hardship cases increased by 6,569 persons, representing 8.95 per cent of the total refugee population in the Gaza Strip. At end of June 2002, the total number of special hardship cases was 79,930, representing 9.09 per cent of the refugee population. Four social workers were recruited because of the increase in special hardship cases. The severe Israeli restrictions on movement within the Gaza Strip, affecting almost all UNRWA staff, prevented social workers from visiting 1,993 special hardship families.
256. Shelter rehabilitation. To promote family and community contribution to shelter rehabilitation and create work for small camp-based construction contractors, the field started a self-help pilot project during the reporting period. A total of 116 shelters were rehabilitated during the reporting period, of which 21 were rehabilitated through the self-help approach. As a result, the ability of these families and some community members to participate more extensively in the rebuilding of shelters improved, and more cost-effective housing units were built. The field plans to increase the use of the self-help approach during the coming years based on the 2002 pilot project results.
257. Selective cash assistance. During the reporting period, this subprogramme responded to the exceptional socio-economic difficulties of 479 special hardship families with an amount of $111,930. Among them, five non-special hardship case refugee families facing emergency conditions received assistance in the amount of $1,500. The special hardship families assisted represented 2.7 per cent of the total registered special hardship case families. Donations enabled the relief and social services programme to respond in a timely fashion to the overwhelming challenges posed by the continuing conditions of strife.
258. Operational constraints. Since the beginning of the conditions of strife in the occupied Palestinian territory in September 2000, the freedom of movement of persons, goods and services in the Gaza Strip have been severely restricted by the Israeli authorities. The IDF intermittently bisected or trisected the Gaza Strip by placing roadblocks and checkpoints on the main traffic arteries connecting the northern, middle and southern sections of the Gaza Strip. As a result, it was difficult, and in many cases impossible, for local relief and social services department staff to reach their places of work. Shooting has occurred in close proximity to UNRWA vehicles carrying staff members, endangering their lives. The lack of mobility of UNRWA staff hampered the provision of services for the Palestine refugee population. Social workers could not visit their clients, community-based organization staff were unable to administer programmes and field staff could not reach their offices in Gaza City to administer the regular or emergency programmes. UNRWA humanitarian assistance to the regular special hardship cases was also disrupted.
259. Women in development. The social services programme continued to play a vital role in linking the women’s programme centres with potential donors to fund needed projects. Illustrating the flexibility and adaptability of the community-based organizations to respond to the challenges posed by the escalating conditions of strife in the Gaza Strip, women’s programme centre committees organized special lectures and workshops at their premises in cooperation with local and international NGOs, on subjects such as first aid, guidance and counselling (particularly for mothers), and assistance for traumatized children. Informal educational and recreational activities for children were also implemented at women’s programme centres, including supplementary education classes for underachieving students and summer camps for 1,200 children. Deteriorating economic conditions in the Gaza Strip meant that many community-based organization clients could no longer afford to pay fees for courses or participate in any cost-sharing venture for needed equipment, such as prosthetic devices. In spite of all these obstacles, however, 6,433 persons were able to participate in the various activities and programmes of the women’s programme centres.
260. Community-based rehabilitation. The UNRWA disability programme continued to support the network of seven community rehabilitation centres that provided basic rehabilitation and outreach services for disabled persons, raised community awareness of the needs and rights of people with disabilities and provided referral services to specialists. UNRWA provided financial and technical support and promoted institution-building. In total, 5,771 persons benefited from those services. The disability programme, in coordination with community rehabilitation centres, highlighted the home-visit programme and social integration activities. A total of 5,027 participants benefited from comprehensive audiological services, schools, libraries, computers, toys, the child-to-child programme, community awareness programmes, sponsorships, family support and counselling. With a grant from UNRWA, the centres organized summer camps for disabled and able-bodied children, benefiting 1,000 children.
261. Youth activities. Youth activity centres made their premises available to university students and their professors who were unable to travel to universities in Gaza City owing to IDF roadblocks and closures. In addition, youth activity centres hosted travellers from Gaza City to the Egyptian border when IDF roadblocks prevented their travel. A month-long summer camp was conducted at all youth activity centres during the summer vacation. A total of 10,358 persons benefited from the programmes and ad hoc activities of the youth activity centres.
262. Al-Nour Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired. Ongoing educational, rehabilitation and recreational activities for some 370 blind and visually impaired children and adults continued in the Al-Nour Centre, including elementary schooling, a kindergarten, vocational training, income-generating opportunities and Braille courses, as well as the introduction of further outreach services throughout the Gaza Strip. The Centre provided teaching and visual aids to help visually impaired children integrate into the regular school system and to facilitate the employment of visually impaired adults in the workforce. The progress that the Centre has achieved over the years has earned it international recognition for its work as well as the respect of the local community. The Ruler of Sharjah Emirate in the United Arab Emirates presented the Sharjah Excellence Award to the Al-Nour Centre on 11 November 2001. However, the Centre’s premises were extensively damaged on 5 March 2002 as the result of the bombing of a nearby police station. It was the sixth time since September 2000 that the Centre had sustained damage as a result of bombing raids. The premises were repaired over time, but it has been impossible to resume schooling there under the insecure conditions, with many children also unable to travel from various regions of the Gaza Strip. Both staff and students were moved temporarily to a safer location, pending an improvement in the security situation.
1 World Bank, “Fifteen Months — Intifada, Closure and Palestinian Economic Crisis: An Assessment”, March 2002.
3 Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 13 (A/56/13).
Statistical and financial information tables
Number of registered personsa (as at 30 June 2002)
a Figures are based on UNRWA registration records, which are updated continually. However, the number of registered refugees present in the Agency’s area of operations is almost certainly less than the population recorded.
b Until 1967, the West Bank of Jordan was administered as an integral part of the Jordan Field.
c 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 2002)
Number and distribution of special hardship cases (as at 30 June 2002)
Basic education servicesa (as of October 2001)
a Enrolment figures exclude an estimated 193,369 refugee pupils attending government and private elementary and preparatory schools and 59,604 refugee students attending government and private secondary schools; they include 44,698 non-refugee children attending UNRWA schools (elementary, preparatory and secondary).
b Participants in the regular in-service training programme (not including the Education Science Faculty) during the 2001/02 school year.
Vocational, technical and teacher-training services
(actual enrolment in 2001/02 academic year as of December 2001)
b Two-year post-secondary courses in a variety of technical, paramedical and commercial skills.
c Four-year post-secondary course leading to a first university degree.
d Two-year post-secondary course leading to a two-year teaching diploma.
Medical care services (1 July 2001-30 June 2002)
b With the exception of a 43-bed hospital run by UNRWA at Qalqilia in the West Bank, hospital services are provided through contractual agreements with non-governmental and private hospitals or through partial reimbursement of treatment costs.
c Number of infants below 12 months receiving full primary series.
Selected health indicators for Palestine refugees
b UNRWA Survey, 2001.
Social services programme (1 July 2001-30 June 2002)
a Including disabled persons assisted through home-based activities, mainstreaming into educational and special vocational training programmes, job placement, self-support projects, provision of prosthetic devices and other aids, and cash assistance.
b Including enterprises associated with women’s programme centres and community rehabilitation centres, and in the West Bank, apprentices placed with local employers.
c Including 370 of the Al-Nour Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired in Gaza.
Actual expenditure in 2001, regular budget for 2002 and proposed biennial budget for 2003
(Cash and in kind, millions of United States dollars)
b Including management and administrative services that support all Agency programmes, as well as working capital reserves to be allocated to programmes during the budget biennium.
c To cover the estimated residual costs of emergency activities that will be borne by UNRWA’s regular programme.
Contributions in cash and in kind by Governments and the
(1 January 2001-31 December 2001)
(Actual receipts, United States dollars)
Staff members arrested or detained (1 July 2001-30 June 2002)
2 One staff member died in custody; one staff member, who was released without charge or trial in January 2002 and later re-arrested in May, is not included.
3 A staff member who was released without charge or trial in April 2002, and later re-arrested and released without charge or trial in June, is included only once.
4 One staff member committed suicide while in custody.
5 The staff member received a death sentence, but later escaped.
6 The staff member has been detained without charge since 1996.
Agency staff (on 30 June 2002)
Microfinance and microenterprise programme (1 July 2001-30 June 2002)
a Shared capital base for the solidarity group lending product and the microenterprise credit programme in Gaza.
b Percentage over the life of the programme to 30 June 2002.
Pertinent records of the General Assembly and other
United Nations bodies
1. General Assembly resolutions
2. General Assembly decisions
3. Reports of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA
Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-second Session, Supplement No. 13 and addendum (A/52/13 and Add.1)
Ibid., Fifty-third Session, Supplement No. 13 (A/53/13)
Ibid., Fifty-fourth Session, Supplement No. 13 and addendum (A/54/13 and Add. 1)
Ibid., Fifty-fifth Session, Supplement No. 13 (A/55/13)
Ibid., Fifty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 13 (A/56/13 and Add.1)
4. Financial reports and audited financial statements (biennial)
Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first Session, Supplement No. 5C (A/51/5/Add.3)
Ibid., Fifty-third Session, Supplement No. 5C (A/53/5/Add.3)
Ibid., Fifty-fifth Session, Supplement No. 5C (A/55/5/Add.3)
5. Reports of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine
6. Reports of the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA
7. Reports of the Secretary-General
Reports of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolutions 51/126, 127, 129 and 130 of 13 December 1996, respectively:
A/52/423 (Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities).
A/52/415 (Offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees).
A/52/372 (Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues).
A/52/503 (University of Jerusalem “Al-Quds” for Palestine refugees).
Reports of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolutions 52/59, 60, 62 and 63 of 10 December 1997, respectively:
A/53/471 (Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities).
A/53/472 (Offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees).
A/53/644 (Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues).
A/53/551 (University of Jerusalem “Al-Quds” for Palestine refugees).
Reports of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolutions 53/48, 49, 51 and 52 of 3 December 1998, respectively:
A/54/377 (Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities).
A/54/376 (Offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees).
A/54/345 (Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues).
A/54/385 (University of Jerusalem “Al-Quds” for Palestine refugees).
Reports of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolutions 54/71, 72, 74 and 75 of 6 December 1999, respectively:
A/55/391 (Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities).
A/55/402 (Offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees).
A/55/428 (Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues).
A/55/425 (University of Jerusalem “Al-Quds” for Palestine refugees).
Reports of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolutions 55/125, 126, 128 and 129 of 8 December 2000, respectively:
A/56/382 (Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities).
A/56/375 (Offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees).
A/56/420 (Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues).
A/56/421 (University of Jerusalem “Al-Quds” for Palestine refugees).
8. Notes by the Secretary-General
A/51/495 (Note by the Secretary-General and annexed special report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East on the financial crisis of the Agency).