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Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
31 December 2009


Overview (December)

2009 opened to the largest Israeli military operations in Gaza since 1967. By the time unilateral cease-fires were declared on 18 January, “Cast Lead” had killed over 1,400 Gazans, including at least 350 children, and injured thousands more. Some 280 schools, almost half of all health facilities, and critical water and sanitation infrastructure, were damaged or destroyed. Over 3,500 homes were obliterated and around 50,000 sustained minor to major damages.

Twelve months on, thousands of families are still living amid rubble and crumbling infrastructure due to an Israeli blockade imposed in June 2007 that bars everything but limited supplies of essential humanitarian goods from entering Gaza. Only 41 truckloads of construction materials (0.05% of pre-blockade flows) – have been permitted entry since “Cast Lead”. Cement to rebuild homes; glass to replace shattered windows; pipes to repair crumbling water and sanitation infrastructure are almost totally unavailable, and over USD 77 million in UN projects to repair homes, schools and health facilities remain suspended for lack of goods and material. Gaza’s formal economy has largely folded and families contend every day with shortages of basics including safe water, nutritious food, and medicine.

Across the West Bank, 2009 was marked by heightened settler violence; and by displacement of Palestinians, including in East Jerusalem. Between January and August 2009, OCHA recorded 217 settler-related incidents against Palestinian civilians, property and places of worship across the West Bank. Some of the attacks exemplified the settlers’ so-called “price tag policy” of making Palestinian communities pay a “price” in physical injury and destruction of property, in response to attempts by Israeli authorities to dismantle illegal outposts. In November, OCHA warned that nearly 250,000 Palestinians in 83 communities were at risk of heightened violence in similar “price tag” attacks.

Palestinian construction or expansion in Area C, which covers 60% of the West Bank, requires a permit from the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA). This process is extremely complex, costly and time-consuming, so most Palestinians are forced to build “illegally”, and risk demolition of their homes, schools and water cisterns. As at November 2009, Israeli authorities had demolished 180 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C since the beginning of the year, displacing 319 Palestinians, including 167 children. In East Jerusalem, where Palestinian development is also restricted by Israeli planning codes, at least 19 Palestinian structures including 11 homes were demolished due to lack of permit in 2009, displacing 109 residents, including 60 children. Up to 60,000 East Jerusalemites are at risk of displacement for building without permits.

Access and movement restrictions affecting children’s ability to get to school, health centres, friends’ homes, cultural centres and places of worship, eased slightly in 2009, with 578 closure obstacles at end November, down slightly from 632 in May. Construction of the 705 km Barrier is 58% complete; and when fully built, 85% of the route will run inside the West Bank, surrounding 125,000 Palestinians on three sides.

UNICEF works with government, stakeholders and partners, to promote and fulfill children’s rights, reaching out first to especially vulnerable and marginalized children. In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), UNICEF focuses on policy and institutional support to the Palestinian Authority, and together with a broad range of partners, implements humanitarian and development programmes designed to assist, protect and empower children and their families. This monthly update offers highlights of policy and programme delivery for 2009.

Policy and institutional advances

In 2009, the Palestinian Authority (PA) assumed financial responsibility for procuring the full complement of essential vaccines for children. UNICEF provided all vaccines for children between 1995 and 2000, and again from 2002 to 2008. UNICEF will continue to provide procurement and technical support to the Ministry of Health, including for the introduction of new vaccines.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), UNICEF supported negotiations related to 28 child protection-focused amendments to the 2004 Child Law. The amendments include definitions, legal frameworks and systemic approaches, but they also deal with specific gaps including protecting children from hazardous labour; raising the compulsory education age from 15 to 18; providing health services for children under six who are not covered by insurance; and raising the minimum age of children appearing before juvenile justice courts from 9 to 12 years old.

The process included representatives from 17 line ministries, the Palestinian Legislative Council, the High Judicial Council, the Birzeit University Institute of Law, NGOs, and children. The amended 2004 Child Law was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2009 and awaits endorsement by the President.

In 2009, UNICEF produced a Situation Analysis of Children and Women in order to guide planning and programme design for 2010 and 2011-2013, in line with the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan programming cycle. The comprehensive assessment analyses conditions and factors influencing the lives of children and women, and areas of particular concern in addressing capacity gaps and fulfilling children and women’s rights.

The report notes that while measurable improvements have been made in fulfilling child rights since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 15 years ago, many of these gains are now in jeopardy. Trend data available point to declines or stagnation in children’s health and education indicators since 2000, and high exposure to chronic violence and psychosocial distress. The last comprehensive situation analysis was produced in 2000.

UNICEF leads a group of 12 Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs, together with OCHA, OHCHR, UNRWA and WHO, in regularly reporting to the Security Council on grave violations committed against children in the context of conflict. Under the framework provided by Security Council Resolution 1612, countries with patterns of child recruitment in conflict are mandated to report to the Security Council. The group reports voluntarily on nine indicators: killing/maiming; rape/sexual abuse; abduction; attacks of schools and hospitals; denial of humanitarian access; child recruitment; detention; torture; and displacement. In 2009, the group produced a submission for the UN Fact Finding Mission (Goldstone Report on Gaza), covering deaths and injuries; the use of children as human shields; and access to medical care. Around 75 field workers have received specialized training in reporting and monitoring grave violations against children in conflict.

Since 2007, UNICEF has supported Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) efforts to develop a child profile database including social, health and academic indicators covering all students in PA, UNRWA and private schools. The software was tested in 18 West Bank Schools in 2009, and the database will go to scale in 2010.

UNICEF is also working with MoEHE on legislation related to eliminating violence in schools. A draft policy and guidelines were piloted in 93 Palestinian Authority, private and UNRWA schools in Gaza and Jerusalem in 2009. The draft policy will be finalised based on lessons learned during the pilot, with the goal of extending the policy to all schools in 2010.

With the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), UNICEF led the development of a database on services for youth, and trained 122 MoYS staff in all districts in its use. UNICEF is also working closely with MoYS to update the National Youth Policy in preparation for the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan 2011-2013.

Also in 2009: UNICEF supported MoH to develop a protocol and guidelines for maternal and child nutrition during emergencies; and following “Cast Lead”, led the development of a guide outlining best practices for delivering psychosocial support.

Humanitarian and Development Response

UNICEF-oPt programmes focus on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); child survival and development; child protection; education; and adolescent development and participation.

In the Gaza emergency response, UNICEF provided overall leadership in several “clusters”, or areas of humanitarian intervention, including WASH and Education, as well as the Child Protection; Nutrition; and, with WHO, the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support sub-clusters. Cluster leads are responsible for coordinating planning and action by all humanitarian actors working in that specific sector, as a way of improving efficiency, predictability, and accountability in emergency response.

During and immediately after “Cast Lead”, UNICEF’s WASH programme provided hygiene material and safe drinking water to partners for distribution to vulnerable families. UNICEF also provided Gaza’s water utility with generators to operate damaged water and wastewater treatment facilities, chlorine to disinfect water, and funds to purchase emergency fuel.

In order to reach large numbers of children in Gaza with safe drinking water each day, UNICEF provided tankered water to 135 schools and eight learning centres, benefiting at least 112,500 students and 5,000 teachers. Despite significant challenges in importing construction and repair material into Gaza, one well was drilled in Moghraqa, making more safe water available for around 40,000 residents, while rehabilitation and extension of water networks increased access for an additional 30,000 residents in conflict-affected areas of northern Gaza. Six small desalination units have been installed near wells across Gaza, benefitting 30,000 people, and two large desalination units being installed now will reach 20,000 more residents. Across the West Bank, water and sanitation facilities were renovated in 23 marginalised schools, benefiting over 8,000 students and around 200 teachers.

UNICEF provided emergency medical supplies for up to 40,000 children during and immediately following “Cast Lead”, and obstetric equipment to 6 neonatal units in Gaza. With the Ministry of Health and UNRWA, UNICEF conducted a catch-up measles, mumps and rubella campaign that reached 117,000 students in grades 7 and 9 who had been missed in earlier rounds. With Ard el Insan, a community based organisation, UNICEF established four therapeutic feeding centres for moderate-to-severely-malnourished children, and provided micronutrient supplies for six months. Training in managing severe acute malnutrition management was also provided to 80 health workers.

During 2009, UNICEF worked with MoH to sustain immunization coverage, targeting 120,000 infants with DPT3_Hib (97% coverage); and reaching over 51,000 pregnant women with two doses of tetanus toxoid. The polio, measles and tetanus elimination targets and goals have been maintained, with zero reported cases over the past five years. Cold chain equipment including solar refrigerators was provided to health facilities subject to frequent power outages.

To improve community and family health care practices, 228 health care providers in Gaza and the West Bank were trained on “Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses” – a life-saving, holistic approach to caring for sick children. Micronutrient supplementation was provided to 651 Maternal and Child Health (MCH) clinics across oPt, along with basic growth monitoring and laboratory micronutrient measuring equipment. More than 140,000 households were targeted in a breast-feeding awareness campaign, raising by 15 per cent the proportion of women who understood the principles of exclusive breast-feeding from a baseline of 58.6 per cent.

UNICEF worked closely with the UN Mine Assistance Team immediately following “Cast Lead” to support mine-risk awareness and education efforts, especially among children, who are particularly vulnerable to injury and death from unexploded ordnance. UNICEF and partners produced mine-risk awareness materials including 200,000 leaflets, 100,000 board games, and public service announcements for radio.

Soon after the cease-fire, UNICEF and partners established three family centres providing a broad range of child protection, educational, health and psychosocial services under a single roof. At end-2009, the initiative had been scaled up to 20 family centres, with Save the Children Sweden as the lead implementing partner.

UNICEF-supported psychosocial teams responding to children and families affected by military operations, closures and forced displacement, reached over 40,000 children and 7,000 caregivers across oPt with individual or group counseling in 2009. Support is intended to strengthen the resilience and coping mechanisms of children, and to enable caregivers to better protect their children. The project reached girls and boys in equal numbers, and in 2009, saw a significant increase in participation by fathers. Some 800 professionals, volunteers, school counselors and animators received training.

In 2009, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Social Affairs in piloting a child protection protocol that enables frontline workers to detect, manage and refer children affected by abuse, in Gaza City, Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Nablus. Training was provided to social workers, school counselors, police officers, and staff from the ministries of Education, Health, Justice, Interior, and partner NGOs.

Emergency supplies provided following “Cast Lead” to enable schools to re-open quickly included 14 tents that served as temporary learning spaces for children whose classrooms were destroyed; 520 School-in-a-Box kits (each kit meets the needs of 80 students and 2 teachers); around 400 interactive Math and Science teaching kits; 100,000 note books; and 44,000 remedial folders. In September, to support back-to-school efforts in a context of severe shortages, UNICEF provided 92,000 sets of stationary items (6 copybook, 2 pens, 6 pencils,a ruler and eraser) for primary school students in Gaza.

In 2009, UNICEF worked with MoEHE to outline an early child development policy that will significantly expand access to preschool opportunities. UNICEF also developed child-friendly kits including educational toys and games, 200 of which were distributed to kindergartens across oPt. “Open Days” to raise awareness about the importance early learning among parents and caregivers were held at dozens of kindergartens in the West Bank and Gaza.

UNICEF worked with Right to Play Palestine and the Ministry of Education to provide sports and life skills-based learning opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable for girls at 60 West Bank schools. During the summer, UNICEF also provided informal remedial education and structured recreational activities for thousands of primary school students struggling to keep up with their studies.

Adolescent Development and Participation supported programmes focused on remedial learning, life skills-based education and recreational activities, reached around 52,000 adolescents through 143 adolescent-friendly centres across Gaza and the West Bank. Over 25,000 adolescents also participated in UNICEF supported community initiatives that included clearing rubble in Gaza, undertaking minor repairs, and road safety campaigns. Systemic advocacy with partners ensured that half of beneficiaries were girls. Five new adolescent-friendly centres were also piloted in East Jerusalem.

A 2009 evaluation of UNICEF-supported adolescent-friendly centres showed that programme impact had been large and extensive, with evidence of self-reported behavioral change on the part of the programme’s adolescent participants and their parents, and wider beneficial effects on the community and programme partners. Focus group discussions also point to improved academic performance, increased self-confidence and a reduction in violence.

UNICEF expresses deep thanks and gratitude to donors for flexible and timely funding received in 2009, which enabled effective responses to the Gaza emergency, and development programmes in the West Bank. Heartfelt appreciation goes to our partners in Government, NGOs and UN agencies for their commitment and drive to achieve results for children.

HIGHLIGHTS OF CRC @ 20 20 November 2009 marked 20 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Together with partners in Gaza and Ramallah, UNICEF organised exhibits featuring photographs by young adolescents; sports and recreational activities for thousands of children; and a concert at the Ramallah Cultural Palace featuring the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music Student’s Orchestra.

ADVOCACY FOR CHILDREN UNICEF-oPt hosted a series of high profile visits to focus public attention on children in 2009. The SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict visited Gaza in February, followed by the UNICEF Executive Director in March. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Mia Farrow and Mahmoud Kabil conducted a joint mission in October. Steve Barakatt, UNICEF Canada Ambassador, performed with students during CRC @ 20 festivities.

Basic Indicators
1Total population (2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

Child population (under 18 years, 2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

Child population (under 5 years, 2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

Child population (under 1 year, 2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

GNI per capita (US$, 2007)1230The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF

People living below the national poverty line (%, 2007)±
West Bank
PCBS, Poverty and Living Conditions in the Palestinian Territory, 2007
Health and Nutrition

Under 5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births, 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
8Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births, 2006) West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births, 1995)70-80PCBS, 1995
10Children 12-23 months fully immunised (%, 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
11Children 12-23 months immunised against measles (%, 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
12Stunting prevalence (moderate & severe) among under-5 (%, 2000-2007*)10The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF

Wasting prevalence (moderate & severe) among under-5 (%, 2000-07*)1The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF
14Malnutrition prevalence (underweight) (moderate and severe/severe (%, 2000-2007*)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006

Births attended by skilled health personnel (% , 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
16 Prevalence of HIV/AIDS No data
Water and Sanitation
17Use of improved drinking water sources (%)
West Bank
PCBS, Household Environment Survey database, 2003-2006
18Use of improved sanitation facilities (%)
West Bank
PCBS, Household Environment Survey database, 2003-2006
19Literacy rate of 15-24 year olds (Total/Male/Female; %; 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Labor Force Survey atabase, 1995-2007
20Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
West Bank
PCBS, Education Census, 1994/1995 - 2006/2007
21Primary net enrolment ratio (Total/Male/Female; %; 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Education Census, 1994/1995 - 2006/2007

± PCBS uses two measures of poverty: Deep Poverty (absolute) and Poverty.
*The Deep Poverty line reflects a budget for food, clothing and housing only. For a family of six the deep poverty line in 2006 was NIS 1,837. The Poverty line adds other necessities including health care, education, transportation, personal care and housekeeping supplies; raising the line to NIS 2,300 for a family of 6. Thus, the percentage of households in Poverty includes those in deep poverty.

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