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UNITED
NATIONS

Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.6/1986/7
27 January 1986

Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
Thirty-first session
Vienna, 24 February-5 March 1986
Item 5 of the provisional agenda*

_______
*E/CN.6/1986/1
PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN PROMOTING INTERNATIONAL
PEACE AND CO-OPERATION

The situation of women and children living in the
occupied Arab territories

Report of the Secretary-General

INTRODUCTION

A. Mandate for the report


1. This report is prepared in pursuance of Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/18 of 24 May 1984, in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Commission on the Status of Women at its thirty-first session an updated version of his report on the situation of Palestinian women and children in the occupied Arab territories (E/CN.6/1984/10).

2. A first update of that report, submitted to the Commission on the Status of Women at its thirtieth session, had been prepared as basic documentation for the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women, held at Nairobi from 15 to 26 July 1985. 1

3. As the Commission knows, on 19 March 1985 the Chargé d'affaires ad interim of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations addressed a letter to the Secretary-General pertaining to his Government's comments. That letter was circulated on 21 March 1985 as document A/40/188-E/1985/60.

4. The present report is a further update of the last report of the Secretary-General (A/CONF.116/6) and covers more recent developments relating to the situation of Palestinian women and children within the occupied Arab territories. As was the case in the past, it draws exclusively on reports and other material dealing with various aspects of living conditions of Palestinian people as a whole in the occupied Arab territories, issued by United Nations bodies during the period 15 September 1984-15 October 1985.


B. Background information

5. The high male emigration rate, particularly in the groups of working age, continues to affect the demographic structure of the population, and contributes to the growing number of dependants per wage earner. 2

6. Economic stagnation, expropriation and confiscation of Palestinian land, exploitation of land resources, restrictions to freedom of movement, lack of job and career opportunities for qualified youth prevailed in the occupied territories, affecting the entire population, men, women and children. 3

I. POLITICAL AND SOCIAL MATTERS


A. Political matters

7. Examples of oppressive practices by the military authorities in the occupied territories continued to be reported by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and by the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories. 4 They mainly related to the restrictions on the rights to freedom of movement, association, expression, worship and education of Palestinian people, including women (A/40/702, paras. 114 and 159).

8. It was reported that five Palestinian women who had been invited to the 1985 Nairobi non-governmental forum had been prevented from leaving by Israeli authorities (A/40/702, para. 127).

9. In the period under review the Special Committee heard extensive testimony on harsh treatment of detainees and severe conditions prevailing in Israeli investigation centres and prisons, including a prison for women in Neve-Tirtza (Ramle). These conditions had given rise to hunger strikes, and other protest actions which led to punitive actions such as prolonged solitary confinement, denial of visits, withholding of educational, cultural or information materials, deprivation of hot water, etc. (A/40/702, paras. 289-290). Incidents involving beatings of prisoners, and denial of medical treatment were also reported (A/39/591, paras. 288 and 298).

10. The Special Committee drew attention to reports of torture, and inhuman conditions prevailing in the detention centre at Fara's for young detainees, awaiting trials for "minor" offences such as stone-throwing and demonstrating separate from other detainees, charged with more "serious" security offences (A/39/591, para. 299; A/40/702, paras. 293-294).


B. Social matters

1. Employment and working conditions

11. A continuous decline in agricultural and economic development of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued to negatively affect the labour force participation rate and structure of employment (A/40/373-E/1985/99, paras. 8-11). According to data published during the period under review, the participation rate was estimated in 1982 at less than 20 per cent of the total population of 225,200 persons, almost 87 per cent of whom were men.* The participation of women in the total labour force of the occupied territories in 1983 was estimated at less than 8 per cent (A/39/403, paras. 18 and 20-21).

12. By the end of 1983 it was estimated that 92,000 persons recruited from the West Bank through official channels were filling jobs in Israel (A/39/403, para. 51). However, this total constituted only a portion of the actual number of Palestinians working in Israel. Those employed unofficially, often including women and children working in seasonal agriculture and small enterprises, were estimated to number about 25,000.** It is commonly known that irregular employment of young persons is widespread; according to Arab sources, it is in the order of 20 per cent of irregular workers (A/39/403, para. 58).

13. Despite government policy to combat irregular employment in Israel the number and proportion of irregular workers has not changed, since it relates to the generally difficult living conditions in the occupied territories and family needs (A/39/403, para. 58). An effort was made to increase employment opportunities for women through training programmes in jobs traditionally held by women. Women who attended such programmes constituted 16 per cent of a total of 52,000 people who received vocational training provided by the Ministry of Labour during the period from 1968 to the end of 1983 (A/39/403, para. 27).
2. Education

14. In 1984/85, as far as UNRWA schools are concerned, enrolment on the West Bank totalled 39,939 pupils in 770 elementary and 346 preparatory class sections served by 1,297 teachers; in the Gaza Strip 83,977 pupils were enroled in 1,355 elementary and 477 preparatory class sections with a teaching force of 2,280 (A/40/13 and Corr.1, paras. 53-54 5). Forty-nine UNRWA/UNESCO schools on the West Bank and 93 schools in the Gaza Strip operated on a double shift. The double shift system is generally recognized as detrimental to the children's development. The much shorter school day also makes life more difficult for mothers, particularly in many cases where children from the same family attend different shifts (ibid.), but so far it has not been possible to discontinue this system because of the shortage of funds.

15. Detailed information on the distribution of refugee pupils receiving education in 1984/85 is given in table 1.

16. The Israeli authorities have continued to examine textbooks for contents which they would find objectionable. Restrictions on curricula also continued and have affected specifically the teaching of Palestinian history, geography, culture, and even Arab literature and language (A/39/591, para. 32; A/40/702, paras. 39-40). Teachers, authors and artists have been continuously subjected to various types of restrictions, including confiscation of their writings and paintings, ban on their publications and their distribution (A/39/591, para. 34; A/40/702, paras. 42-43).

17. In the period under review the situation of pre-school, elementary, preparatory and secondary education has not changed from previous years. The teaching process has continued to be affected by unrest and numerous incidents resulting in the harassment of students and male and female teachers (A/40/702, paras. 141, 145, 147, 149, and pp. 65, 77 and 82).

18. Higher education has suffered from three serious problems: constraints on the autonomy and freedom of academic institutions; the absence of an effective local Palestinian authority to support higher education; and scarcity of resources (A/40/373-E/1985/99, paras. 70-71). The restrictions on academic freedom, programmes and staff have led to continuous resistance by the academic community and punitive measures by the Israeli authorities, including arrest and transfer of male and female students and professors, expulsion from universities and their frequent closing. 6

19. The vocational training centres attended by women have functioned without major interruptions. In the Ramallah Women's Training Centre on the West Bank, which is run by UNRWA, 288 graduates completed, in 1984/85, post-preparatory and post-secondary level of training in secretarial work; as laboratory technicians; in dressmaking; in clothing production; as infant leaders; in home and institutional management and in hairdressing; and 390 graduates completed pre-service training (A/40/13 and Corr.1, p. 43, table 4).


Type of school
Number of pupils
West Bank
Gaza Strip
Number of pupils in elementary classes
at UNRWA schools a
    Boys
13,108
32,762
    Girls
15,223
29,541
      Total
28,331
62,303
Number of pupils in preparatory classes at UNRWA schools a
    Boys
5,557
11,236
    Girls
6,051
10,438
      Total
11,608
21,674
Number of refugee pupils in government schools
23,637
19,536
Number of refugee pupils in private schools
1,145
-
      Total
24,782
19,536
Total number of refugee pupils known to receive education
64,721
103,513

Source: Based on the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to the General Assembly at its fortieth session (Official Records of the General Assembly, Fortieth Session, Supplement No. 13 (A/40/13 and Corr.1)), p. 41, table 3.

a On the West Bank 98 UNRWA schools, with 1,297 teachers; in the Gaza Strip 145 UNRWA schools, with 2,280 teachers.


3. Health

20. According to the report of the WHO Special Committee of Experts Appointed to Study the Health Conditions of the Inhabitants of the Occupied Territories, submitted to the thirty-eighth World Health Assembly in 1985 (WHO document A/38/10), health conditions in the occupied territories cannot be separated from the general socio-economic framework and its repercussions on the community and on individual men, women and children. As in previous reports, the Committee stressed deterioration of mental well-being and an increase in mental diseases. It also pointed out certain improvements in services and measures undertaken to treat them. The health conditions of the Arab population in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, are closely linked to socio-economic conditions: housing, food and nutrition, drinking water and sanitation as well as the health system have remained unchanged (ibid., p. 6). The health programmes and budget are managed by Israeli authorities (ibid., p. 5). The improvements that have been made in the health services are far from being adequate to meet the needs of a growing population and to reflect the advances in medical science (A/39/233-E/1984/79, para. 120). As noted by the WHO Special Committee of Experts, the insufficient health system infrastructure, the high cost of hospitalization, antiquated diagnostic equipment, old buildings experiencing problems with electricity, heating and laundry facilities, and a shortage of essential medical equipment staff* and drugs remain serious obstacles to health protection. Although they affect the population as a whole, health conditions have greater significance for women, who bear and rear the children and look after the health and nutrition of the family. There is also a higher percentage of adult women than of men in the occupied territories.

21. In the period under review, the curative and preventive medical policies and care services of UNRWA continued, as did immunization, environmental and sanitation programmes, the nutrition support of vulnerable groups and the health education activities among refugee communities. 7 Respiratory diseases were the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children.

22. UNRWA provides maternal and health services, pre-natal, natal and infant and child care at its health units, supported by specialist and hospital referral services. In 1984 the Gaza Strip had six maternity wards attached to the UNRWA health centres; 4,739 of the deliveries took place in these facilities, 11,375 in the two government hospitals and 3,518 at home usually with the aid of traditional birth attendants. On the West Bank, 4,148 of the refugee children were delivered in hospitals, 100 in the camp maternity centres and 1,844 were born at home. 8 The Special Committee also noted in its report submitted to the thirty-eighth World Health Assembly that the percentage of women who have their babies in maternity centres was on the increase (WHO document A38/10, p. 6).

23. Details of the maternal and child health services provided by UNRWA are set out in table 2:

* For example: The West Bank has 132.5 physicians. In the opinion of the local officials another 40 to 50 physicians are needed (WHO document A38/10, p. 4).

Table 2. Maternal and child health services provided by UNRWA
West Bank
Gaza Strip
Maternal care
Pre-natal services
Number of pre-natal clinics
24
9
Number of newly registered pregnant women
5,548
16,484
Average monthly attendance
1,680
4,654
Number of serological tests for syphilis (STS)
0
5,805
Number of positive cases
0
0
Number of home visits
515
579
Natal care
Number of deliveries registered
6,092
14,893
At home
1,844
3,518
In camp maternity centres
100
4,739
In hospitals
4,148
6,636
Number of live births
6,122
14 919
Number of still births
58
131
Number of maternal deaths
2
0
Number of home visits (post-natal
9,211
34,414
Child health care
Number of child health clinics
23
9
Number of infants aged 0-1 year registered
5,192
15,303
Average monthly attendance
4,927
11,185
Number of children aged 1-2 registered
5,414
12,296
Average trimonthly attendance
5,582
9,929

Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Annual Report of the Director of Health, 1984, p. 27, table 8.



24. Special services continued to be provided by child health clinics to the underweight children registered with them. The prevalence of underweight declined in the age group 2-3 years (see table 3).


Table 3. Average incidence of underweight in infants and
children registered in child health clinics

First degreeSecond degreeThird degreeFirst, second and third degrees
AreaNumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage
Age 0 - 1 year
West Bank
Gaza Strip
247
626
4.8
4.1
94
357
1.8
2.3
15
69
0.3
0.5
338
488
0.5
6.9
Age 1 -2 years
West Bank
Gaza Strip
197
752
3.6
6.1
50
297
0.9
2.4
3
18
0.1
0.2
250
1 067
4.6
9.7
Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Annual Report of the Director of Health, 1984, pp. 28-29.

Note: Degrees of underweight are based on the following percentage of average theoretical weight for age:

First degree: 74-85 per cent.
Second degree: 60-74 per cent.
Third degree: below 60 per cent.


25. Despite efforts to clean up the environment, sanitation and health conditions continue to present serious problems in the refugee camps, as in previous years (WHO document A38/10, p. 7).

26. Gastro-enteritis and infectious hepatitis linked to environmental sanitation and community behaviour continue to be a public health problem. The incidence of measles on the West Bank and pertussis in Gaza has significantly increased.*

27. During the period under review the United Nations system continued to provide assistance to Palestinian people, including special programmes of assistance addressed to Palestinian women and children in the occupied Arab territories.9

28. The 1984-1986 programme of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is focused on child survival, health and development, reduction of infant mortality, early detection and treatment of childhood disabilities and rehabilitation, expansion of immunization, water supply, pre-school and formal and non-formal education, and promotion of income-generating activities for women. At its annual session in 1985, the Executive Board of UNICEF approved a commitment of $1.7 million for assistance to mothers and children in the West Bank and Gaza. 10 Within this framework, in the areas of child survival and development, UNICEF has trained 40 public health nurses in post-basic courses and 120 traditional birth attendants. A pilot primary health care project has been developed in four villages in the least developed districts of Hebron in the West Bank. A child development centre has been established in Ramallah District and staffed by a director, a pediatrician, a psychologist, a visiting nurse/midwife and a social worker. The task of this centre is to promote the survival, growth and development of the young child. A training course for some 220 candidates for intermediate skills in physio, audio and occupational therapy started in February 1985 and will last until April 1986 (A/40/353-E/1985/115 and Corr.1, paras. 43 and 45). In the area of pre-school education, UNICEF has co-operated with charitable societies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to support pre-school activities through the provision of classroom furniture to 190 kindergarten classes, which have been purchased from the Palestinian Al-Bir Society of Jericho. In addition, UNICEF has supported training courses for kindergarten teachers, 85 in Bethlehem and 130 in the Gaza Strip (A/40/353-E/1985/115 and Corr.1, para. 44).


Notes

1 Report of the Secretary-General on the situation of women and children living in the occupied Arab territories and other occupied territories (A/CONF.116/6, 30 October 1984).

2 Report of the Secretary-General on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories (A/40/373-E/1985/99), paras. 7-8.

3 Ibid., paras. 8-11. See also the report of the Secretary-General on permanent sovereignty over national resources in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories (A/39/326-E/1984/111); and the report of the Secretary-General prepared in pursuance of General Assembly decision 39/442 (A/40/381-E/1985/105), paras. 7, 13 and 20.

4 See the reports of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth and fortieth sessions (Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-ninth Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/39/35); and ibid., Fortieth Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/40/35)); and the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories (A/39/591, A/40/702).

5 Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to the General Assembly at its fortieth session (Official Records of the General Assembly, Fortieth Session, Supplement No. 13).

6 "Implementation of 21c/resolution 41.1 concerning educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories", General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Twenty-second Session, Paris, 1983 (22c/18, Add.1 and 2); see also A/39/35, para. 31, and A/39/591, pp. 36-37.

7 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Annual Report of the Director of Health, 1984, p. 20, table 3 and paras. 17 and 19.

8 Information received directly from the Office of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

9 For detailed information, see the report of the Secretary-General on assistance to the Palestinian people (A/40/353-E/1985/115 and Corr.1).

10 See "Aid to Palestinian refugees", Development Forum, vol. XII, No. 7 (September 1984), p. 11; see also the report of the Secretary-General on assistance to the Palestinian people (A/40/353-E/1985/115 and Corr.1), p. 12.

* The low labour force participation rate is attributed to the very low female participation rate, the fact that the population is young and the fact that the emigration of men in the 25-44 year age group continues.

** The estimates given by Histadrut are between 25,000 and 35,000 workers (A/39/403, para. 56).

* In 1984 on the West Bank 736 cases of measles were reported, which was about 14 times as many cases as in 1983. In Gaza 257 cases of pertussis were reported, which was nearly four times the number of cases reported in 1983 (WHO document A38/10, pp. 6-7).






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