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Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
29 May 2002
UNICEF Humanitarian Action: OPT Donor Update 29 May 2002

    • Over 330,000 children confined to their homes during Operation Defensive Shield.
    • 500,000 children living in villages were unable to access health services during this period.
    • For almost a month, 600,000 Palestinian children were prevented from attending school.
    • 1.8 million Palestinian children were exposed to violence during Operation Defensive Shield


Since the latest Israeli military offensive started on March 29, the population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has experienced the most difficult period since the Al Aqsa Intifada started in September 2000. The UN Security Council recently noted the 'dire' humanitarian situation in the OPT. According to the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 217 Palestinians were killed and 498 injured from the beginning of Operation Defensive Shield to April 21, 2002. In the same period, at least 35 Palestinian children were killed.

Lack of access to basic services in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

At least 620,000 Palestinians were prevented from accessing health services during Operation Defensive Shield, including over 330,000 children who were confined to their homes. Additionally, 500,000 children living in villages surrounding major health centres were unable to access health services during this period.

The donor community has stated that the total damage in the West Bank is around US$370 million. Severe Palestinian economic decline has been generated by the extreme restriction on the movement of people and goods. Mobility restrictions, curfews and closures associated with Israeli military operations in the OPT have resulted in the scale and scope of poverty reaching unprecedented levels. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, more than two-thirds of Palestinian households now live below the poverty line (US$340 per month). In the West Bank, 57.8 per cent of households are below the poverty line, while in Gaza the figure reaches 84.6 per cent.

According to WFP, 900,000 Palestinians, including around 500,000 Palestinian children, are still in urgent need of food assistance due to increased poverty levels resulting from Israeli incursions and the subsequent tightening of the Israeli closure regime.

According to UNRWA, the Israeli military caused extensive damage to hundreds of Palestinian homes. A total of 4,320 Palestinians, mostly from Jenin, are now homeless, including around 2,200 children.

For almost a month, 600,000 Palestinian children in 8 West Bank districts were prevented from attending school. It is estimated that the number of classes missed is approximately 11,000 and the number of lost teaching sessions amounts to approximately 55,000.

112 Palestinian schools sustained Israeli military damage, of which 11 were totally destroyed, 9 were vandalized, 15 were used as military outposts and another 15 as mass arrest and detention centres. Ministry of Education's headquarters and district offices raided by the Israeli military sustained considerable damage. In Ramallah, equipment and educational materials provided by the international donor community were looted by the Israeli military and computer networks were destroyed. Some 275 schools are situated close to flash points in the current conflict.

While the number of Palestinians under arrest or in detention remains uncertain, B'tSelem, an Israeli human rights organisation, has reported that over 2,500 Palestinians are currently being detained as part of Israel's mass arrest campaign, which took place during Operation Defensive Shield. Defence for Children International/Palestine Section estimates that 10-15 per cent of recently rounded up detainees are children (that is, between 250 and 375).

1.8 million Palestinian children were exposed to violence during Operation Defensive Shield either directly by witnessing the arrest, detention, death or injury of a friend or family member; confrontations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians; and/or shelling, shootings and bombings, or indirectly through television.

No lasting peace can be built upon such foundations.


UNICEF emergency response to the current situation

UNICEF has long been assisting the children of the OPT in the education, health and psychosocial sectors. The immediate task for UNICEF is to support the Palestinian Authority (PA) to address the short-term needs of children affected by the current crisis. This requires accelerating assistance to rebuild the capacity of the PA, NGOs and community groups to re-establish basic social services for children mainly in the areas of education and health.

In the current crisis, UNICEF's priorities are to ensure children's access to basic health services including support to immunisation activities, provision of psychosocial support, increasing mine awareness, ensuring a safe school environment for children and the provision of remedial education approaches for children who have been affected by violence and curfews. UNICEF partners in the OPT include the Secretariat of the National Plan of Action (NPA) for Palestinian children, the Palestinian ministries of education, health, and social affairs, and NGOs, specialising in psychosocial interventions.

Health emergency activities and service delivery
UNICEF's initial response in this sector concentrated on facilitating the resumption of immunization services and the adequate supply of essential medicines and vaccines. Key results of UNICEF assistance to date include:

    • Transportation of vaccines and essential medicines - UNICEF international staff assisted the Ministry of Health to transport vaccines and essential medicines, syringes and other medical disposables from the central warehouse in Ramallah to all of the main hospitals. This, in an effort to restart routine vaccination services (counterparts are not permitted by the Israeli military to transport these items). In addition, 50,000 ORS sachets were distributed to the main hospitals/health facilities to address outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases.
    • Immunisation - A catch up immunisation campaign for children under 15 months and mop up campaign for polio for children aged 15 months to 5 years are being undertaken. The campaign will cover a minimum of 50 villages in the West Bank over 34 days. UNICEF logistical support is essential to overcome access restrictions imposed by the Israeli military.
    • Food and nutrition - Emergency deliveries of food were undertaken for child protection institutions and families under 24 hour curfew in Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Ramallah and Bethlehem. A nutritional survey of the Palestinian population is currently being undertaken.

Psychosocial relief interventions

To reduce the psychosocial impact of the current 'crisis within a crisis', UNICEF is supporting interventions which enable Palestinian children to express their fears, anxiety and trauma through play. The psychosocial sector is the largest area of intervention for UNICEF at this time. Key results to date have included:
    • Activities in Jenin - UNICEF actively contributed to the development of a mid and long term plan for psychosocial interventions in Jenin. In addition, 21 Days of Fun have been organised in Jenin- each one for a group of 200 children- to enable them to play and express themselves. As part of this program, UNICEF recently helped the Palestinian Red Crescent Society to organise a day of recreation and play activities, which was attended by over 5,000 children.
    • Technical assistance - UNICEF is providing leading technical input for coordination purposes. Assessment tools developed by UNICEF/Save the Children and the NPA Secretariat for Palestinian Children, along with guidelines for journalists and supply lists, have been adopted by the members of the national Palestinian psychosocial coordination body.
    • Psycho-social telephone hot lines - Hotlines have been set up and are fully functional in Ramallah, Nablus and Gaza.

Education emergency activities and support

UNICEF's support is aimed at helping to ensure that the end of the school year proceeds with as little disruption as possible and that remedial education is provided to compensate for the days schools were closed. Key results to date include:
    • Back to school campaign - This campaign seeks to promote the return of children and teachers to school. UNICEF is providing basic educational supplies to families whose homes have been destroyed and teachers and health workers have received psychosocial briefings from UNICEF experts as part of this campaign.
    • Provision of computer network and systems equipment - In order to restore the Ministry of Education's operational capacity and to ensure that the final school exam would take place as planned in mid-June 2002, UNICEF provided the financial support required to replace equipment looted by Israeli soldiers.
    • Remedial education - Using the model supported since the beginning of the second Intifada by UNICEF in Hebron, remedial classes will be held in 80 schools across the West Bank during the months of June and July 2002. Home-based self-learning and distance education through the medium of television will also be implemented.
    • Summer camps - UNICEF will support the Ministry of Youth and Sports in monitoring the implementation of the National Declaration on Summer Camps in camps to be organised by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian NGOs for summer 2002. A psychosocial component is being incorporated in each of them. UNICEF will finance a minimum of 60 summer camps covering an estimated total of 9,000 children.

Mine Risk Education activities

In response to the prevalence of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in Jenin refugee camp, UNICEF sent a mine awareness expert to Jenin to assess the situation in this respect. Key results of UNICEF assistance to date have included:
    • mine awareness campaigns - Mine awareness raising is being undertaken in Jenin for children through the distribution of leaflets, use of loudspeakers and house to house visits by youth and women's teams, as well as awareness sessions in schools and print out of posters
    • plan of action for local capacity building: a plan of action has been drafted, including a training activity for main local partners in cooperation with ICRC.

In addition, UNICEF is co-operating with UNRWA in response to the destruction of public infrastructure in the Jenin refugee camp. UNICEF has seconded a water and sanitation expert to UNRWA to assess and initiate repairs to damaged water and sanitation infrastructure. A plan of action with recommendations was shared with UNRWA, Oxfam and UNDP.

UNICEF regular programme and activities

In the West Bank and Gaza, UNICEF's work is framed within its 2001-2003 Programme of Co-operation with the Palestinian Authority, which is articulated around four programmes, namely: 1/ Promoting and Monitoring Children and Women's Rights ; 2/ Early Childhood Care for Survival, Growth and Development ; 3/ Promoting Learning in Child-friendly Environments ; and 4/ Development and Participation of Adolescents.

UNICEF supports Palestinian efforts to improve the quality of services and information delivered to children and their families by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian non-governmental institutions, by strengthening the capacity of their front-line workers and assisting the Palestinian Authority in the development of policies. UNICEF is also providing assistance to Palestinian ministries, civil society organisations and legislators to monitor and advocate for the realisation of children's rights in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as to implement the necessary mechanisms in Palestinian society to reinforce the protection and participation of Palestinian children. The programme provides the right strategic framework to carry out the UNICEF response during the current emergency.

The Programme devoted to the Promotion and Monitoring of Children and Women's rights aims at promoting a culture of child rights in the Palestinian society and at better protecting its most vulnerable children. It reinforces linkages between research, advocacy and the development of policies. The objectives of the programme are to: 1/ contribute to the Palestinian Authority's efforts in improving national legislation in accordance with the Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and advocate for their translation into policies at national and community levels; 2/ increase the commitment and strengthen the capacity of the PA, NGOs and civil society in identifying, supporting and monitoring children in need of special protection measures; and 3/ support the PA in improving the quality of social data and information collection mechanisms and maximise its utilisation in support of the Palestinian Development Plan, the NPA for Children and relevant sectoral plans. The programme is comprised of three projects, namely, 1) Children in need of special protection measures; 2) Planning, monitoring and evaluation, and 3) Advocacy for children and women's rights.

The Early Childhood Care for Survival, Growth and Development programme is articulated around three main projects, namely, 1) Child health policies and services; 2) Women's health; and 3) Early childhood care for development. Activities supporting the strengthening of child health policies and services as well as the improvement of women's health have two kinds of scope: national in the support to policies, and sub-national by focusing on the six most disadvantaged districts in the improvement of services. Activities with national scope include: support to legislation, production and distribution of iodised salt as well as research on other micronutrient deficiencies. In addition activities targeting disadvantaged areas cover the introduction of the integrated management of childhood illnesses (IMCI) in 60 primary health care facilities; the provision of equipment and upgrading of technical skills in the maternal health services delivered by 60 primary health care centres and 6 hospitals in the same districts targeted for the IMCI; support to mop-up immunization activities targeting difficult-to-reach groups against measles, polio and tetanus toxoid; and the promotion of breastfeeding and certification of 20 hospitals as baby-friendly.

The Promoting Learning in Child-friendly Environments programme aims at supporting the implementation of the 5-year education plan along the "Education For All"- Jomtien Declaration and raises awareness on the right to education for all with special attention paid to gender, geographical disparities and disadvantaged children in enrollment. The programme thus contributes to (1) the increase in the net enrolment rate for grades 1-6 in the West Bank from 91.4.% in 1998/1999 to 98% by the year 2003, with special focus on gender, geographical equity, and children with special needs; and (2) the increase in the proportion of children with good learning achievement (score of 80/100) in the West Bank & Gaza in Grade 4 from 35% (1999 level) to at least 50% in the year 2003. The programme is comprised of two projects, namely 1) Advocacy and capacity building for EFA; and 2) Better education for living.

The Development and Participation of Adolescents programme will integrate and assemble these projects and initiatives with a view to give greater coherence and focus to UNICEF's support to Palestinian adolescents. It will aim at making adolescents more prominent in the Palestinian society and preparing them to be responsible citizens and parents. The goal of the programme will therefore be to promote the development of adolescents and encourage their participation in the Palestinian society. The programme will comprise of two projects, namely: 1) A society for adolescents; and 2) Skills for life.


2002 emergency Appeal

At the beginning of April 2002, UNICEF updated its' request of US$ 1.8 million (previously US$1.5 million) to support the implementation of emergency activities for children and women affected by the current situation. Response by the donor community has been excellent, exceeding the amount requested by approximately US$ 300,000. Canada (CIDA) very promptly and significantly responded to the appeal with more than US$1.25 million, followed by the Italian, UK, Greek, and French Natcoms, as well as the Irish Government. The following table provides an update on funding along the three main interventions highlighted in the Alert: education, psychosocial, and child health and development as well as protection from violence (so far only mine awareness):


Target (US$)
Funded (US$)
% Funded
Unfunded (US$)
Education- incl. summer camp
- 85,000
- 120,000
Child health and develop
- 20,000
Mine Awareness
- 140,000
- 365,000

2002 regular programme

As part of the 2002 regular programme, UNICEF requires US$ 1.5 million to conduct development activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Thus far, contributions have only been received from the German National Committee (US$ 140,000), the French National Committee (US$ 80,000) and the UN Foundation (US$ 56,333), totalling just over US$ 276,000. The table below gives a detailed summary of the contributions received, by sector:


Target (US$)
Funded (US$)
% Funded
Unfunded (US$)
Promoting and monitoring children's and women's rights
Promoting learning
Adolescent's Development & Participation


UNICEF to maintain adequate provision of basic services to children

The good donor response in the current emergency allows UNICEF to significantly support education activities this summer including summer camps and remedial education, as well as psychosocial interventions and immunization. While UNICEF can marginally expand its support to such activities, additional efforts should emphasize the protection of children from violence as well as child health and development. In terms of the regular programme, the assumption continues to be that UNICEF partners in the OPT have maintained their capacity to provide services. This performance is however, directly linked with the ability to access a given community. Unless more funds are made available, special protection activities including support to juvenile justice and the monitoring of rights in addition to assistance on women's health issues, and early childhood and life-skills based education will be interrupted. This will undermine previous and continuous efforts aimed at building institutional and individual capacities in the Palestinian society and consolidating the basis for development.

The following table gives the priority project needing urgent funding:


Amount Required (US$)
1. Women's health- violence against women
2. Children in Need of Special Protection
3. Child-friendly Schools

Details of the Occupied Palestinian Territory Emergency Programme can be obtained from:

Pierre Poupard
Special Representative
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Tel: + 972 2 583 0013
Fax: + 972 2 583 0806

David S. Bassiouni
Tel: + 41 22 909 5503
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902

Dan Rohrmann
New York
Tel: + 1 212 326 7009
Fax: + 1 212 326 7165

For further information on UNICEF, visit its website at

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