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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 October 2004
OFFICE FOR THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS
P.O. Box 38712 East Jerusalem
Phone: (972) 2 – 5829962 / 5825853, Fax: (972) 2 – 5825841
HUMANITARIAN MONITORING REPORT - OCTOBER 2004
The Humanitarian Monitoring Report is produced monthly by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It draws on information from the Access, Closure and Information System (ACIS), among other data sources that humanitarian agencies have submitted to OCHA. The report is provided to the Task Force on Project Implementation (TFPI) as a basis for discussions with the government of Israel. It is available on the website (www.ochaopt.org).
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Ms Catherine Bertini as his Personal Humanitarian Envoy to address the humanitarian needs arising from the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict since September 2000. Ms Bertini was requested to assess the nature and scale of the humanitarian needs, and to clarify the respective responsibilities of all actors with regard to humanitarian needs.
This report monitors the humanitarian commitments made by the government of Israel to Ms Bertini during a mission to the region from 12 to 19 August 2002. It concluded that there were serious humanitarian problems linked to the ongoing conflict and, specifically, to the measures implemented by the government of Israel to safeguard its citizens from Palestinian attacks.
These security measures, including curfews, closures and roadblocks, led to a crisis of access and mobility, instigating a drastic decline in the Palestinian economy. A large part of the Palestinian population has difficulty accessing basic services such as health and education. Humanitarian service providers such as UN agencies, NGOs, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) ambulances, have experienced problems providing assistance and services to beneficiaries.
• Ambulances will wait no more than 30 minutes at checkpoints.
• Mechanisms will be set in place to ensure patients seeking critical medical services (child delivery, dialysis, chemotherapy) can pass all checkpoints quickly.
• Problems relating to water deliveries in Palestinian towns and villages will be addressed to ensure that daily provision of adequate volume can be supplied by Palestinian water tankers.
Facilitation of International Humanitarian Organisations
• The government of Israel will fully facilitate the activities of international organisations, with particular reference to UNRWA.
• The government of Israel agreed to review and strengthen the liaison arrangements between international agencies and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
On previous occasions, the government of Israel has made the following commitments, which were confirmed to the mission:
• The fishing zone for Palestinian boats off the Gaza Strip coast will be extended to 12 nautical miles.
• Olive farmers will be allowed access to their fields.
• Increased shipments will be enabled at Karni crossing in the Gaza Strip.
• The number of permits for Palestinian workers in Israel will be increased.
In October 2004 ambulance operators, including PRCS, MoH and UNRWA, reported a total of at least 47 access incidents (compared to 54 in September 2004) in which the provision of first aid and/or medical evacuations were delayed, obstructed and/or prevented by the IDF.
Furthermore, in October the IDF conducted one of the longest and most intense military operations in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the second Intifada.
Water, sanitation and hygiene-related problems continue to increase in Palestinian areas. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), there was strong evidence of water-related diseases; inaccessibility to public health centres; lack of funds to pay for wastewater evacuation; a high percentage of families were unable to pay water bills; there was destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure; dependence on water tankers for fresh water; limited supplies of water or no access to water networks; and curtailed or completely cut off water supplies.
Obstructions of movement for international humanitarian organisations
In October 2004, international relief agencies filed some 73 incident reports, in which the delivery of aid and/or the movement of personnel were obstructed by the IDF or Israeli Border Police. Most incidents reported included delays and disrespect by the IDF of international humanitarian organisations’ mandates, privileges and immunities.
While the volume of trade had been increasing since May, as measured by the total number of containers entering and leaving the Gaza Strip, this trend reversed in September and improved only slightly in October. The share of exports as a percentage of total trade was half of that in August; exports accounted for 9.7% of terminal activity in October, compared to 7.7% in September.
In addition, restrictions remain over a large stretch of the Gaza Strip coastline. Sailing is permitted up to six nautical miles from the coast. Since 19 October 2003, no fishing has been permitted from either Khan Younis wharf or Rafah wharf, both located inside Al Mawasi.
Trade figures are reported by Palestinian officials at Karni to OCHA. These figures represent the most accurate figures available to OCHA at the time of publication.