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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
30 June 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 - JUNE 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.reliefweb.int/hic-opt).
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 coast will be extended to 12 nautical miles
• Olive farmers will be allowed to access 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.
Palestinian and UNRWA ambulance operators reported a total of 38 humanitarian access incidents (compared to 93 in May 2004) in which the provision of first aid and/or medical evacuations was delayed, obstructed and/or prevented by the IDF. Of the recorded incidents in June, 11 involved denials of access, 20 involved delays, six were reports of shooting/damage to an ambulance and one involved a situation where a medical crew was detained for two days.
The Rafah Terminal remained closed to all Palestinians between 16 and 35 years of age, a situation that is ongoing. At the Rafah Terminal, ambulances must transfer patients through the “back-to-back” method, in which patients are transferred from the rear of one vehicle to the rear of another. Due to closures and other restrictions imposed at the Rafah Terminal, the number of patients crossing there has reduced significantly. However, some restrictions were eased on emergency medical cases for treatment in Israel.
A preliminary UN inter-agency assessment indicated that between 10 and 40% of Rafah's water network was damaged during the Israeli May 2004 incursion by security forces in Gaza. The poor state of Rafah’s infrastructure caused public health problems even before recent demolitions occurred.
Facilitation of International Humanitarian Organisations
In June, international relief agencies filed some 76 incident reports, compared to 151 in May, in which the delivery of aid and/or the movement of personnel was obstructed by the IDF or Israeli Border Police. Most incidents reported included access delays or denials of access by the IDF of international organisations’ mandates, privileges and immunities.
Restrictions remain over a large stretch of the Gaza coastline. Boats are permitted travel up to 6 nautical miles between Deir El Balah and to the north of Gaza City. However, since 19 October 2003, no fishing has been permitted from the Al Mawasi coast to the south of Deir el Balah.
While there has been a notable increase in the volume of exports leaving Gaza, imports still remain at significantly low levels when compared to the first quarter of 2004. And while Erez reopened in June for the longest period since March, the number of workers entering Israel and the industrial estate are now in the hundreds compared to the thousands crossing in the first quarter of the year.
The accumulative effect of such a prolonged closure when compounded with the potential number of lost working days represents a significant loss of income to the local economy.