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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
31 December 2004
EMERGENCY APPEAL 2004
Twenty-fifth progress report - July-December 2004
EMERGENCY APPEAL 2004
2004 ended on a note of high optimism in the international community regarding the revived potential for a breakthrough in the Palestine Israel conflict, brought about by the prospects of a new leadership for the Palestinian Authority and of Ariel Sharon’s Gaza Disengagement Plan. The reality for Palestine refugees living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza however remained largely unchanged in the latter half of the year as the emergency situation not only persisted but, at points, reached new lows.
According to data collected by UNRWA’s Field Security Office, 364 Palestinians were killed and 1,556 injured during the latter half of 2004. Whilst all deaths are to be deplored, the Agency is greatly saddened by the deaths of
28 UNRWA school pupils and two teachers
during the period.
Disturbingly, a number of these killings have occurred whilst the pupils were on school premises and therefore under the care of the Agency at the time they were shot: These include 10-year old Raghda Adnan Al-Assar, who was struck in the head by an Israeli bullet while sitting at her desk in UNRWA’s Elementary C Girl’s School in Khan Younis camp. Two schoolgirls from the same UNRWA school were shot; Ghadeer Jabr Mokheimer, 9, in the stomach as she sat at her desk and Rania Iyad Arram, also 9, in the head as she waited outside her school compound.
The period July to December 2004 was characterised in Gaza by regular military incursions by Israeli forces in their efforts to prevent home-made rocket attacks on the Negev town of Sderot and settlements within the Gaza Strip. The largest of these was Operation Days of Penitence. For 17 days from 28th September, the Israeli army remained in control of Northern Gaza in the largest military operation since the start of the intifada. An estimated 200 armoured vehicles were on the ground in towns, villages and the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp, launching regular raids into civilian areas, firing on Palestinian targets from the air and ground, sealing off Palestinian neighbourhoods and restricting movement of civilians and humanitarian/emergency relief workers. Large swathes of agricultural land were levelled and there was widespread damage to public and private property – homes, schools, commercial interests - and public infrastructure. IDF bulldozers dug deep trenches across several main roads, severing sewage, water and electricity lines. Over 100 Palestinians were killed, including 27 children, and over 400 injured. An estimated 143 families, mostly refugees, were made homeless in this single operation, 19 public buildings were destroyed, as well as extensive damages to roads, water and sewage lines. UNRWA, in coordination with other humanitarian actors, began distributing emergency supplies with the assistance of the UN’s World Food Programme to those affected as soon as safe access could be guaranteed. Relocation fees and in-kind assistance was provided to those who lost their homes, food parcels were distributed and health centres were placed on 24-hour shifts
During such military operations in the northern area of the Strip, large swathes of agricultural land, in particular olive groves and citrus trees were leveled. According to different studies and surveys
, land leveling has increased food insecurity in Gaza. Over 50% of Beit Hanoun’s agricultural land has been destroyed in the last four years. In July alone, the Israeli Army “cleared” 289 hectares of land in the Beit Hanoun area.
In response to the deteriorating security situation and increasing difficulties of access to Gaza through the Erez Checkpoint, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Peter Hansen, took the decision to raise the UN security phase from Phase Three to Phase Four on 21 July. This meant the relocation of all UNRWA Headquarters international staff to Jerusalem and Amman, with the exception the Commissioner-General’s office. Initially planned for a period of two months, the relocation lasted until 21st December. Naturally this resulted in considerable disruption to operations at the Agency’s Headquarters.
Food distribution has also suffered as a result of heightened security measures at Karni, the only commercial crossing point between Gaza and Israel. Since the new security regime was introduced the Agency’s emergency food distribution programme has been suspended on two occasions. The round of emergency distributions which was due to begin on 10 June, but did not start until September, affecting around 600,000 persons – almost two-thirds of the refugee population.
In the West Bank, the demolition of Palestinian buildings continued as did the confiscation and bulldozing of land, and uprooting of trees belonging to Palestinians as part of the construction of the wall/fence in the West Bank. Construction work on the wall/fence continued throughout the reporting period, despite the fact that on 9 July the International Court of Justice issued a ruling that the structure was in violation of international law, calling on Israel to dismantle it and to compensate those Palestinians harmed by its construction. Following this, on 20 July, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution which demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations as mentioned in the advisory opinion. As a practical response, on 25 July the IDF demolished 18 commercial buildings in Barta’a, apparently connected to the construction of the wall/fence, out of 35 Palestinian buildings demolished during the month.
Land confiscations, bulldozing and uprooting of land continued also for expansion of Israeli settlements, especially in the Nablus area. In parallel, settler attacks against Palestinian farmers and olive pickers also continued. The Eid holiday period and the death of President Yasser Arafat was a further destabilising factor in the situation although only a few security-related incidents were recorded in the immediate aftermath of President Arafat’s death. At the end of November though, security concerns intensified again. Lastly, the highest number of demolitions since February 2004 was recorded in the West Bank in the month of December (46). A total of 31 out of 46 demolished Palestinian houses occurred apparently to allow the construction of settlers’ roads in the West Bank. This led to 181 demolitions being recorded in the West Bank over the reporting period. Curfews continued to be used as a form of collective punishment and control in the West Bank with 24 instances recorded in July, 26 in August, 32 in September, 15 in October, 4 in November, and 13 in December. Almost 150 curfew days were recorded, with a peak of 44 days in December. According to latest figures, at the end of the reporting period there were 719 road obstacles in the West Bank, of which 61 were permanent checkpoints, 6 semi-permanent checkpoints, and 48 gates. Movement restrictions were maintained for Palestinians travelling within the West Bank and into Jerusalem.
Emergency Employment Creation
A central component of UNRWA’s response to the deepening poverty levels in oPt is emergency employment creation. These programmes target very poor and unemployed persons with large families. Jobs created under the these programmes provide income support for an average of six dependents per person employed, at a wage of US$10 to US$12 per working day. This provides income support of approximately US$2 per day for each dependent. This daily rate is set below the general market rate (ensuring an element of self-targeting among those in greatest need) while encouraging workers to seek regular employment as soon as the economy improves. This aspect of emergency programming directly tackles the high levels of unemployment, helps stimulate the local economies and improves living conditions in refugee camps. It is subdivided into the direct hire of employees on short-term contracts or the implementation of building and maintenance projects through private-sector contracts or community-based projects.
a. Direct hire
Direct hire refers to interventions where UNRWA both funds and manages the programme of work. Through this sub-programme UNRWA offers temporary employment in a wide range of professional, technical, support and unskilled positions in connection with its regular and emergency programmes. The majority of those hired under the programme, including medical personnel, administrative staff, labourers and guards serve for a maximum period of three months. However, certain professional categories (whose services cannot be interrupted) such as engineers, health workers, social workers, teachers, sanitation and food distribution supervisors, serve for the length of a specific project or operation.
In the latter half of 2004, UNRWA provided 11,780 temporary employment contracts, 2,508 of them in the West Bank and 9,272 in the Gaza Strip.
The total number of contracted days during the period came to 733,294 days. Those who participated supported 82,610 dependants. This sub-programme has the secondary impact of strengthening the Agency’s own service delivery at a time when demand is high due to the emergency itself.
b. Indirect Hire
Indirect hire, where UNRWA funds and supervises activities implemented through community organisations forms the smaller part of the emergency employment programme. A total of 223,915 work days were generated through UNRWA’s indirect hire projects under the Emergency Appeal in the latter two quarters of the year. In total, 6,830 work days were provided in the West Bank, and 217,085 days in the Gaza Strip. The nature of this programme is set to change under the 2005 Appeal in response to concern, within the Agency and beyond, that large scale construction projects may not be the most effective way to generate employment as they are subject to frequent delays and disruption due to events beyond the Agency’s control (particularly availability of materials in Gaza and permits from military authorities in the West Bank). Future programming will focus more on smaller scale projects, which can be implemented within a tighter time frame.
During the reporting period, Indirect hire projects made a substantial contribution to the Agency’s infrastructure. At the beginning of July 2004, seven construction projects were under implementation. No new project started within the reporting period in line with the changes proposed for the sub-programme.
In the West Bank Two construction projects with a combined value of US$292,823 were completed:
· Qalqilya Girls School: 3 toilet blocks;
· Fawwar Girls School: 7 additional classrooms and 3 specialised rooms.
Five construction projects remain under implementation. These are:
· Ghor El Far’a (Jiftlek) Co-Educational School: 6 additional classrooms and 4 specialised rooms;
· Camp No. 1 Girls School: 6 additional classrooms and 2 specialised rooms ;
· Ramadin Co-Educational School: new school with 25 classrooms and 11 specialised rooms;
· West Bank Field Office Pharmacy: annex building;
· Microcredit and Microfinance Programme Department and Relief and Social Services Department, WBFO: additional offices.
No additional maintenance or infrastructure projects were implemented during the reporting period in the West Bank. Community projects provided 14,830 job days between July and September with 1,197 labourers directly engaged in the removal of solid waste. A total number of 7,584 dependants benefited through these interventions.
In the Gaza Strip, one infrastructure project was completed:
· Removing undergrowth and construction of a wall and fence at Maghazi Camp completed at the end of August provided 228 job days during the period.
Three projects remained under implementation:
· Construction of a wastewater pumping station and pressure main in Khan Younis which generated 1,849 job days over the six months and was 56% complete as of the end of December;
· Construction of a sewage line at Deir al-Balah which generated 228 job days and was 96% completed; and
· Construction of a gravity sewage line, also at Khan Younis which generated 4,490 job days and was 70% completed at the end of December.
Emergency Food Aid
UNRWA provides emergency food aid to households in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), supplying staple commodities that contribute to nutritional security, including flour, rice, chick peas, sugar and oil
. The provision of these goods does not affect the local market or negatively affect local farm production. As the goods are delivered to beneficiaries for substantially less than they would have cost in local shops, the programme frees up scarce family cash for other essential purposes and this assists refugees’ coping ability.
At the outset of the reporting period, the UN's World Food Programme reported that approximately 1.3 million people in the occupied Palestinian territory, or 38% of the population, were food insecure
. A further 26% of the population, or 586,000 people, were at risk of becoming food insecure
. Again, refugees were more at risk; 39% of refugees were estimated to be food insecure against 36% of non-refugees.
Food distribution was severely disrupted during the period. In Gaza, heightened security measures introduced at the Karni Crossing, the only commercial crossing point between Gaza and Israel, took their toll. Since the new security regime was introduced in May 2004, the Agency’s emergency food distribution programme has been suspended on two occasions. The round of emergency distributions, for 600,000 persons (almost two-thirds of the refugee population), which was due to begin on 10 June, did not start until September. This small progress was short-lived last; October proved to be another troublesome month for the Agency’s warehouse operations. During the month, the throughput at Karni averaged approximately 5-6 containers per day. Some of the delays were due to strikes on the Palestinian side some due to technical breakdowns and security issues at the Israeli side.
After the IDF withdrew in the northern area in the wake of Operation Days of Penitence in mid October, all programmed distribution was able to commence again by November. In all other areas of the Gaza Strip distribution was conducted without major delays, despite the frequent closures of main Abu-Houli check point with the consequential division of the Gaza Strip.
Curfews and closures prevented distribution according to schedule on 15 occasions during the third quarter. Households in Barta’ Halhoul, Qalqilya Jenin, Jericho and Nablus were affected. At the same time, repeated delays in the delivery of whole milk from the port at Ashdod have considerably hindered food distribution in the Jerusalem and Nablus areas.
A pay and benefits strike by West Bank staff union members also significantly affected the emergency distribution of food in October and November. The distribution programme for all three areas in the West Bank had to be rescheduled and distribution under the 2004 Appeal was extended up to January 2005.
Emergency Relief and Social Assistance
a. Cash and In-Kind Assistance
Selective cash assistance on a small scale is provided to those households in extreme crisis, for example as a result of the death or injury of a principal breadwinner or the destruction of housing
. Grants enable families to buy basic items such as food or meet urgent utility or school expenses.
UNRWA's cash assistance programme is understandably much in demand and is strictly controlled. During the six month period, 23,499 families comprising 108,725 individuals benefited (14,632 families in the West Bank and 8,867 families in the Gaza Strip). Most of these grants were given to households without any regular source of income for many months. Cash assistance was also provided to those families requiring relocation due to home demolition.
UNRWA provides in-kind assistance to families who have lost their homes or have been forced to relocate as a result of military activity. A total of 522 families benefited from in-kind assistance during the reporting period: 308 in the West Bank and 214 in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the emergency programme, the Agency has provided a total of 1,727 tents, 118,012 blankets and 5,232 kitchen kits to Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
b. Post-Injury Physical and Social Needs Assistance
UNRWA provides physiotherapy and home visits for those refugees injured during the conflict. The Agency also covers the cost of prosthetics and home adaptations for those who have incurred emergency-related injuries.
A total of 1,425 home visits were made between July and December. During this period, the Agency provided funds for 141 prosthetic devices to patients suffering injuries from emergency-related incidents in the West Bank. Also in the West Bank, home adaptations were undertaken on 23 houses to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities caused as a result of the intifada, and occupational therapists worked with 322 disabled persons in learning how to look after their daily needs unassisted, for instance with washing and feeding themselves, improving their motor skills and learning to adjust to new prosthetic devices. In the Gaza Strip, the Agency assisted 124 cases for post-injury care, the majority of whom received assistance in their homes.
Emergency Shelter-Repair and Reconstruction
Military incursions, shelling, and armed confrontations have caused damage to and the destruction of refugee shelters in the oPt. UNRWA provides assistance to families made homeless by repairing or rebuilding shelters. In some cases, UNRWA assists the families with cash grants paid in instalments, as the families carry out the work on a self-help basis, with technical advice and supervision provided by the Agency's engineers. In others, the work is undertaken by contracting companies under the supervision of the Agency's engineers.
Home demolition has become an escalating problem during the intifada, particularly in the Gaza Strip where at the end of December 2004, over 24,104 persons, 87.5% of whom are registered refugees, had been made homeless in the Gaza Strip by Israeli military operations. In total, 2,991 homes have been destroyed (2,521 inhabited by 24,151 refugees) and 3,531 damaged but repairable (affecting 3,229 homes of 25,487 refugees). The rate of demolition has more than doubled from one year to another, from 32 shelters per month in 2002 to 65 per month in 2003 to 120 per month during the first eight months of 2004. Over half of all demolitions have taken place in Rafah, particularly along the border line with Egypt. Between September 2000 and December 2004, over 17,362 persons - or 10% of the population of Rafah - had their homes destroyed. A further 10% had their homes damaged. Contributions for reconstruction received so far from donors have failed to keep pace with the rate of demolition and the shortage of suitable land available for re-housing purposes in another factor which the Agency must keep in mind.
According to data collected by UNRWA social workers and technical staff during the reporting period, more than 8,043 Palestinians were made homeless during the IDF operations: 715 homes, for 1,123 families, were destroyed; 380 homes, housing 432 families were damaged. Over 80% of those affected were refugees.
A total of 20 refugee shelters sustained major structural damage and 23 were demolished in the last six months of 2004 in the West Bank. Demolition activity had declined markedly in the second quarter of the year but the last quarter showed a increase in this practice.
Re-housing and Repair in Gaza
In spite of the enormous challenges which the Agency faces in the area of rehousing such as shortage of funds and land, as well as the availability and price fluctuations of materials, good progress was attained in the latter half of 2004. Works were completed on Phase 3 of the Rafah Rehousing Project on 14th August delivering 103 housing units built to the particular specifications of UNRWA’s family house design. This approach is modular, extendable both horizontally and vertically and allows extended families to live together in different sized units in the one block. By the end of December, Phase 4 of the same project comprising 122 units was also completed. Phase 5, which will provide a further 109 units was underway by the end of the year and work was progressing on smaller projects of less than 20 units each in Gaza, Jabalia and Beit Hanoun.
Re-Housing and Repair in the West Bank
A total of 37 shelters with major damage were repaired during the reporting period in the West Bank. In all, since the start of the intifada, 11,908 shelters have been repaired across all camps in the West Bank.
The Israeli military occupation of major West Bank cities has resulted in serious access restrictions, and has been the main source of problems in the Agency’s provision of emergency healthcare. Despite the difficulties, UNRWA has persisted in its efforts to provide emergency health services to refugees in need.
Due to increased health needs as a result of the emergency, the Agency maintained contracts issued to supplementary medical staff to assist its operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Between July and December, 568 supplementary health care staff were hired, 215 in the Gaza Strip and 353 in the West Bank. These staff included physicians, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and various support staff who played a vital role in the delivery of the Agency’s services.
UNRWA covers a portion of the hospitalisation bills for refugee patients in the West Bank who are chronically ill and require long stay in hospitals; premature babies; newborns with respiratory distress syndrome; high risk pregnancies who require prenatal care; cardiac patients as well as patients in need of life-saving interventions. This is designed to offset access problems for those in need of emergency care who could not reach hospitals with which UNRWA has long-term contracts. In the last six months of 2004, UNRWA helped 399 patients settle part of their hospital bills. In all, US$153,146 was expended in this way.
The five mobile health teams operating in the West Bank continued to render their services to the refugee and non-refugee population prevented from reaching UNRWA health care facilities by the various checkpoints and movement restrictions. They offered a range of services on communicable and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, anaemia, osteo-arthritis, parasitic infections, infectious diseases as well as first aid to traumatised intifada-related patients. A total number of 53,510 patients were attended and 577 visits were completed over the reporting period.
In the Gaza Strip, 149 new intifada-related cases were admitted into Agency physiotherapy clinics and 2,086 treatment sessions were provided for these patients. In the West Bank, physiotherapists made 3,427 home visits to patients to provide therapy and advise families how to assist in the patients’ recovery, and a further 7,495 physiotherapy sessions were conducted for those referred to units located in health centres.
Regrettably, as a result of the hard choices faced by the Agency due to underfunding of the 2004 Appeal, it was not possible to prioritise environmental health activities during the reporting period. These activities ceased operation in March 2004.
In the Gaza Strip, the Job Creation Programme recruited 81 persons to undertake health education and environmental awareness activities aimed at groups of children, women and adults in public meetings, schools and through home visits in all camps. The Agency also hired 1,184 sanitation labourers in two shifts to undertake clean-up operations in all camps.
Psychological Support and Counselling
emergency psychological counselling programme
, the Agency assigns counsellors to schools and health centres throughout the oPt. Armed conflict, the tight regime of closure and prolonged curfews are the sources of acute psychological stress for Palestinians, both adults and children. The signs of stress – particularly with children – are readily apparent. The Agency provides a range of services aimed at promoting the development of constructive coping mechanisms for refugees in crisis situations and preventing long-term psychological consequences. Programmes targeting schools, health centres, social services and community-based centres were underway throughout the reporting period.
In the Gaza Strip, projects employing 128 counsellors during the period aimed to provide psychological and psychosocial support to a population under severe stress.
Group guidance activities were undertaken in UNRWA’s schools in the Gaza Strip, with 10,769 sessions benefiting 386,998 children during the reporting period. These included sessions providing recreational activities and role playing exercises that enabled children to express their fears and anxieties. To ensure that support could also be provided at home, more than 299 group meetings were held with parents of school children, to help them deal with children suffering from trauma.
Support in Gaza was also offered to refugees of all ages who had undergone trauma as a result of the current fighting. In many cases, Relief and Social Services counsellors working in close cooperation with Agency social workers were able to conduct home visits. In other cases, personnel based in UNRWA’s health facilities were able to offer a range of group and individual interventions including a referral service for those requiring psychiatric assistance.
In total, psycho-social activities were undertaken according to the chart below.
In addition to its education programme, West Bank Field programming enabled 9,926 refugees, including 2,202 women, 1,267 men and 6,457 children to meet with a mental health counsellor in a group setting for a one-time consultation. A further 954 refugees were engaged in supportive group work during the reporting period.
Figures for the educational psychological support programme in the West Bank are
shown in the table below:
A number of training courses were conducted during the period as follows:
· A three day training workshop was organised on in July 2004 at Ramallah Women’s Training Centre for 15 community activators. The training was conducted by UNRWA staff in order to improve the quality of services provided in the West Bank. The main topics addressed included: leadership, community networking, team work and groups.
· On 12 July, a training session was conducted in Am’ari Camp attended by over 20 teachers and counsellors. The training, conducted focused on child abuse (verbal, physical, and sexual) abuses), together with basic detection techniques and interventions.
· On 10-12 October a workshop on family therapy and child abuse was conducted in Bethlehem. The workshop, attended by 22 programme staff dealt with family therapy techniques, sexual abuse, techniques for dealing with survivors of abuse and legislation in the area of the reporting of neglect.
· Finally, a workshop was organised on 28-29 December at Al-Fara’ Youth Centre for 41 school counsellors. The training aimed to facilitate group dynamics between areas and strengthen team work and prepare school counsellors for the integration of psychosocial counselling into UNRWA’s regular programming.
The crisis in the oPt has resulted in a major disruption in education at all levels, with students and teachers often unable to attend school because of closures and curfews. In addition to suffering academically, students have also witnessed events that have led to severe psychological trauma. When adequate funding permits, UNRWA provides remedial classes, extra-curricular and self learning activities in an attempt to counter the negative impact faced by children.
In the West Bank the number of students enrolled in remedial classes remained stable. In December 2004, 5,659 enrolled in Arabic classes and 5,231 in maths. A total of 144 teachers were engaged in the delivery of remedial lessons during the period.
In Gaza, the remedial programme was discontinued at the end of March due to lack of funding.
Recreational activities in the West Bank took place in the thrird quarter of the year, covering the holiday period. The type and level of activity undertaken can be seen in the table below:
In Gaza, over 16,000 students in 40 single shift schools benefited from a programme of physical education, arts, guidance and counselling and cultural activity for two hours each day between 7 September and 14 October.
Short-term courses were offered at UNRWA’s West Bank training centres to provide vocational and technical training in marketable skills to young refugees, thereby upgrading their technical competence and knowledge, as well as to re-train unemployed graduates. Activities also aim to maintain close relations with business, industry and other potential employers, improve employment opportunities of the graduates and enable training centres to respond to market demands and changes in the technology of work. Training funded through the Emergency Appeal is focussed on delivering marketable qualifications in a short timescale to enhance refugee skills to help them cope in spite of the poor state of the local economy.
The best example of this is the International Computer Driving Licence training which UNRWA delivers over a 10 week period. ICDL at three levels was provided at Ramallah Men’s Training Centre, Ramallah Women’s Training Centre and Kalandia Training Centre to a total of 160 trainees, significantly enhancing their employability. Other courses included electrical installation, hairdressing and administrative courses.
In Gaza, ICDL training courses which began in March ran through to December 2004. 160 trade course trainees participated after-hours and 137 Vocational Training Centre graduates benefited from this provision..
Due to the continued instability in the overall security situation the Operational Support Officer (OSO) programme in Gaza saw a significant increase in requests for support from all departments within the Gaza Field Office. The OSO programme has become increasingly engaged in a direct support role to maintain UNRWA emergency assistance operations during extended IDF operations and incursions.
OSOs routinely provide support for Agency operations inside the so-called “Security Zones”, which are Palestinian areas located in the immediate proximity of Israeli settlements, lateral settler roads and other Israeli installations. The necessity of coordinating movements of UNRWA vehicles and staff in these areas with the IDF requires the presence of international staff from the OSO programme. through which area staff members are provided some degree of protection . The support is requested for a wide range of operations, the main bulk being repairs of damage caused by gunfire at UNRWA installations located within range of Israeli positions and support for social workers and technical staff conducting assessments of damages and destruction of Palestinian homes in the immediate vicinity of Israeli installations.
OSOs facilitated access for emergency operations in Beit Hanoun during June and July during major Israeli operations and routinely conducted daily escorts of UNRWA staff to/from Beit Hanoun. OSOs accompanied UNRWA trucks distributing emergency food commodities and water Palestinian families who became isolated due to Israeli deployments. These emergency operations required major liaison efforts with the Israel forces at command level.
During the Israeli military operations in the northern Gaza Strip during September, OSOs provided escort to/from Erez for international staff members and liaised with the Israeli army to ensure emergency food distribution in some of the targeted areas around Jabalia where whole neighbourhoods had been surrounded by Israeli forces.
The OSO programme also has a reporting role. Serious issues of particular concern to the Agency’s operations were the subject of special case studies. The statistical database on access and security issues was updated and disseminated in the regular weekly and monthly Operations Office reports. In the West Bank, daily incidents are covered in a morning update and the West Bank Situation Report. Updates on the overall situation in the West Bank were provided to UNTSO and UNSECOORD several times daily.
In the West Bank, the OSO Programme has a special role in monitoring the progress of the wall/fence. Monitoring continued to focus on the humanitarian impact of the wall/fence in the Qalqilya, Tulkarem and Jenin districts. Approximately 200,000 people are affected by Phase I, having lost land, water and agricultural resources in the construction of the wall/fence itself and experiencing problems in accessing essential resources and services because of gate schedules and permit requirements. OSOs are also monitoring the potential impact of the third phase of construction in the Salfit, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem districts.
OSOs updated profiles and completed case studies on priority locations, especially the enclaves isolated between the wall/fence and the Green Line. The profiles concentrated on key access, health, education and socio-economic issues, as well as highlighting the problems particular to each enclave. The accompanying case studies illustrated the human cost of the wall/fence’s impact, concentrating on the approximately 80,000 registered refugees affected in the first phase. Reports also focused on priority areas affected by the ongoing construction of Phase III of the wall/fence in the middle and southern sections of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, where the Agency is concerned at the implications for the provision of education, health care, relief and social services.
OSOs continued to conduct detailed investigations into incidents where UNRWA installations were damaged as a result of military operations and gunfire. In addition OSOs conducted investigations into incidents where UNRWA staff or students attending UNRWA schools were wounded as a result of gunfire. The OSO reports are used determine the liability for the damages or injuries.
OSOs routinely conduct unannounced inspections and visits of UNRWA installations to monitor UNRWA immunities and privileges. During the reporting period, OSOs have conducted 352 unannounced inspections on a regular basis, reporting on the status of maintenance, fire/safety issues and security related issues.
Regrettably the protection which should be afforded to UNRWA under international conventions is regularly violated by the Israeli army, and on occasion by Palestinian militants.
In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army continued to cause damage to UNRWA installations through gunfire, tank shells or bulldozers over the reporting period. Between July and December, 28 UNRWA installations were damaged in IDF operations, mostly in the southern area. Some installations were targeted and damaged on more than one occasion. For example, the Khan Younis Preparatory “A” Boys School was damaged four times, the Tal Sultan Preparatory Co-ed School in Rafah was damaged five times, the Rafah Preparatory “A” Girls School, the Rafah Elementary “B” Co-ed School, the Rafah Elementary “B & F” Boys School and the Rafah Preparatory “A” Boys School were damaged three times each and the Khan Younis Elementary Girls and Co-educational School was damaged twice. One UNRWA vehicle sustained an estimated US$ 2,000 of damage and an estimated US$2,150 of damage was caused to equipment belonging to the Agency in Khan Younis and Jabalia Camps. In total, damages to UNRWA installations and property in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period were estimated at over US$ 95,000. UNRWA is currently collecting evidence on this and will seek compensation from Israel on the basis of its legal obligations to the Agency.
In the West Bank, education programming was particularly affected by the curfews and closures regime. A total number of 605 days of teacher absence were recorded over the reporting period with a total cost to the Agency of US$16,929. In vocational training centres, 27 days of instructor absence were recorded in the 3rd quarter, and three in the last quarter of the year. Due to the occurrence of summer holidays and the area staff strike, the overall number of school days lost due to closures and curfews in the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2004 was lower than in the previous quarters (respectively, 17 days lost in the 3rd quarter; and only one in the 4th quarter). No new teachers were hired under the emergency appeal during the reporting period, despite the severe constraints on teachers’ attendance. The construction of the wall/fence continued to disrupt education in the Green Line villages of Biddo, Qatanneh, Beit Surik, Beit Inan, and Ramadin.
Jerusalem entry permits:
The issue of access for West Bank Field area staff to Jerusalem continued to be problematic and took a significant turn for the worse. At the end of the reporting period, 262 out of 451 employees or 58% held valid entry permits, compared to 76% at the end of July, 79% end of August, and 80% at the end of September. The number of staff members who do not hold valid permits for alleged “security” reasons remained relatively stable over the period (67 staff members in July; 68 in August; 63 in September; and 63 in December). The net effect is extended periods of denied access, seriously hindering work scheduling and activities at the Field Office.
West Bank Area Staff Union Strike
The area staff union strike which took place from 11th October to 20th November 2004 significantly affected UNRWA activities across the different departments in the West Bank. Due to the wide scope of the Agency’s services, the detrimental impact on all operations, including emergency activities, extended well beyond the resumption of activities.
Nearly all programmes were delayed during the last quarter of 2004. In the Health Department, UNRWA doctors were unable to supervise patients affected by noncommunicable diseases, in particular hypertension and diabetes as prevalent conditions. Only emergency cases were treated at the Qalqilya hospital. Although West Bank Field makes extensive use of contracted hospital facilities which were unaffected by strike action, the process of referral to these hospitals was hit by the strike.
All schools and vocational training centres were closed for the duration. Upon return to work, a decision was taken to reduce the mid-year and summer vacations to maintain the overall number of schooling days. Nonetheless, interruption of children’s learning process is expected to result in lowered achievement rates in this year’s tawjihi (school leaving) examinations.
Remedial education activities were resumed on 1st December, with a considerable delay with regard to the schedule. As a result, recruitment of teachers for the project occurred 3 months after the start of the school year.
Similarly, the strike delayed the Job Creation Programme and halted most operations in Procurement and Logistics, therefore impacting on food distribution and on-going construction projects.
The Operations Office’s normal duties were seriously affected by the local strike. UNRWA vehicle movement in the field came to a halt and with that the need to liaise with the IDF concerning access and security issues. Although Operations was unable to continue the daily West Bank Situation Report a weekly situation report was disseminated to the regular recipients (namely, local UN, diplomatic and consular personnel).
In the field, Operations Support Officers continued to operate in teams of two internationals or accompanied by those local staff members still working. The main priority was to monitor and report on the situation in the refugee camps as a result of the strike and to ensure that Agency installations were properly secured. The regular shift reports highlighted issues of hygiene in the camps and the situation of vulnerable groups, such as chronic medical and special hardship cases as well as problems related to access to medication and relief services.
A. UNRWA Emergency Fact Sheet
B. Spreadsheets: pledges and contributions received, all appeals, as of 31st
C. Spreadsheets: expenditure report, 2004 Emergency Appeal; Combined
expenditure report, earlier appeals.
For a more detailed report, please see Gaza Field Office’s damage assessment, available at (
OCHA, Gaza on the Edge, a report on the deteriorating humanitarian situation, 1 Oct. 2004
Note that this programme is distinct from the Agency’s Regular Food Aid which is provided to Special Hardship Cases. Emergency food programming is targeted at those who have lost assets or livelihoods due to the emergency as opposed to the “chronic poor”.
Emergency Food Security Needs Assessment Report”, WFP oPt, June 2004.
Consolidated Appeals Process Document, UNOCHA, November 2004.
Note that the Agency specifically excludes from its beneficiaries role those proven to have participated in acts of terrorism.