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25 April 2002
UNDP begins urgent efforts for Palestinians

New York, 25 April 2002: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), concerned about the evolving humanitarian crises in the occupied Palestinian territory and the destruction of lives, infrastructure and Palestinian institutions, has drawn up an emergency relief and recovery plan to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian population.

With US$400,000 from the Islamic Development Bank, the UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) has purchased and distributed food, baby milk, bedding, medical kits and essential household items for those who have been most severely affected by curfews and house demolitions, particularly in Nablus and Jenin.

Although the extent of damages to the municipal and the institutional infrastructure cannot yet be accurately estimated, the early indicators show that the damage amounts to many hundreds of millions of dollars. Roads have been demolished; buildings shelled, including schools and almost all Palestinian Authority (PA) offices; homes bulldozed; electricity and telephone poles knocked down and water supply systems destroyed.

“It is crucial for the international community to make available the seed capital that would help the Palestinian Authority rebuild its governing institutions,” said UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown. “This would hasten the recovery efforts and reduce the suffering of the devastated population.”

For the current recovery and rehabilitation efforts, UNDP/PAPP has received indications of support or pledges from the Governments of Canada, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg the United States and other donors. The new contributions, amounting to approximately $40 million, will be utilized for immediate infrastructure repairs such as opening up roads, repairing water supply systems, providing temporary shelters for homeless families and restoring damaged buildings. In addition, the repair and restoration to damage incurred by ministries, municipalities, educational facilities, clinics and other public institutions will be given a high priority.

The imposition of curfews and the reoccupation of Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank has paralyzed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, wreaked havoc on many essential services and institutions, and caused serious devastation to the economic and institutional infrastructure.

An initial sum of $1.5 million, authorized by Mr. Malloch Brown on 5 April 2002, has been utilized to purchase and distribute urgently needed medical relief supplies and to begin immediate infrastructure repairs in the municipalities.

Emergency operation rooms have been put in place to collect information on humanitarian requirements, including medical supplies, shelter, food and repairs to water networks and electrical systems. The system, initiated by UNDP/PAPP, consists of “hot lines” that channel emergency requests to donors who have the resources to provide immediate assistance. PA agencies serve as focal points for each sector of the clearinghouse system and local communities identify their own priorities. Many national United Nations Volunteers have been assigned to staff the operations rooms.

A comprehensive and coordinated needs assessment, conducted by the World Bank, UN agencies, donors, and aid organizations, with the full participation of the relevant PA agencies, is now under way. In addition, an emergency higher council, comprising senior PA officials, including several key ministers, has just been set up to work with the donor community in coordinating and allocating the needed assistance. Donor-led teams are also compiling damage inventories on a geographical basis, with sectoral needs prioritized by local communities. UNDP/PAPP led the assessment team to Qalqilya on 22 April 2002, and organized the assessment of Nablus under the auspices of the Government of Japan on 23 April 2002.

UNDP/PAPP staff is participating in humanitarian convoys organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Over the past few weeks, convoys have successfully delivered basic supplies such as blood, medicines, oxygen, milk, flour, sugar, tents, and blankets to the cities of Jenin, Ramallah, Al-bireh, Nablus, Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Hebron. In addition, UNDP/PAPP convoys have delivered supplies to Tulkarem and Qalqilya and medicine kits to the Medical Relief Committee and Ramallah Hospital.

Since its inception in 1978, UNDP/PAPP has made a considerable and sustained contribution in assisting the Palestinian people, providing some $400 million in development assistance through the generosity of the international donor community and UNDP itself. UNDP/PAPP has consistently proven to be one of the few organizations resident in the occupied Palestinian territory that has the capacity and expertise to implement emergency projects in a crisis situation.

For more information on UNDP/PAPP’s programmes, please contact, in Jerusalem, Willi Scholl at 02 626-8200, or in New York, Omar Gharzeddine at (212) 906-5171.


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