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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
31 October 2002
Emergency Preparedness and Response Highlights No. 9

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OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

A United Nation Interagency Technical Assessment Mission to the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) took place from 9 to 18 October 2002. It was lead by the Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator and Director of OCHA Geneva Ross Mountain and involved UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, WFP, FAO, UNRWA, UNSCO, WB, UNFPA. It was organized following the recommendations of the SG's Special Envoy Catherine Bertini to the oPt. The mission met all the major partners in the field, including Israeli and Palestinian officials, Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, members of the IDF, Palestinian municipalities officials, donors, the Red Cross and Red Crescent society representatives, etc. The Mission was split in two groups in order to cover extensively the scope of the humanitarian assistance: one group focused on policy, and the other on sectoral assessments.

The overall conclusion of the Mission is that the crisis in the region is a political crisis with humanitarian consequences, and not a traditional humanitarian crisis. Denied access due to closure, curfews and incursions are the main problems in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In many ways this directly affects the daily lives of most of the Palestinian population. Retention of Palestinian Authorities taxes by Israel has deprived the municipalities of much needed budget allocations. Access to food is a problem, mostly due to a lack of income because of an increase of unemployment. Agricultural activities are declining due to incursions, expropriation and destruction of farmland. Access to water and energy is also problematic. Malnutrition is increasing and anemia among women is high. Violence and stress caused by curfews and the occupation are main causes of psychological and social distress. School going children are affected by the curfews.

These preliminary findings will be part of a final report -- a Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) for the oPt -- that will soon be finalized.

For information, contact Dr. Ambrogio Manenti, EHA, tel. +41 22 791-3578, e-mail: manentia@who.int.

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