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Source: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
30 September 2003

UNRWA Gaza Headquarters, Department of External Relations
Telephone: + 972 8 677 7720 Fax: + 972 8 677 7698
email: website:

Report on Emergency Activities
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, July-September 2003

Progress Report
22nd Report on Emergency Activities
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
Covering Agency Emergency Activities, Jul - Sep 2003


During July, both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government undertook steps towards the implementation of the Quartet's Roadmap for peace, leading to cautious optimism about the future of the diplomatic process. Following the April accession of Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian prime minister, and the June announcement of a truce by several Palestinian factions, Israeli forces redeployed away from Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem in the West Bank. Israeli forces were only partially successful in removing Jewish settlers from a number of "illegal" outposts in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The Israeli government released some 350 Palestinian prisoners - out of a total of 6,000 held.

Israel continued the construction of the separation barrier (also referred to as the "wall") in the West Bank, announcing the completion of the first 145-kilometre span -- traversing the Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilia governorates - on 31 July. The barrier is already having adverse impacts on the local Palestinian population. These people have lost agricultural land to the barrier itself and often cannot access their land and water sources now isolated on the other side of the barrier. The first section of the wall will negatively affect over 200,000 Palestinians, including approximately 15,000 refugee families according to UNRWA's estimates, approximately 30 percent of the households affected by the construction. Israeli forces have begun the construction of an "envelope" wall that will cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank. UNRWA is concerned that refugees might no longer be able to reach hospitals in Jerusalem, where it arranges for their treatment. Students might be forced to transfer from UNRWA schools in neighbourhoods such as Sur Bahir, which lie in the proposed path of the wall.

Israeli military activity presented several obstacles to UNRWA in implementing its emergency programmes and jeopardised the safety of staff members and refugees alike. Among the 34 Palestinians killed in Gaza during the period, two were UNRWA school children. The killing of one of the founders of Hamas, Ismail Abu Shanab, occurred within 100 meters of UNRWA's Gaza Headquarters the day after the truck bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad. On 24 September, Israeli army troops forcibly entered UNRWA's Qalqilia Hospital. Staff and patients were ordered to sit on the floor with their hands in the air while soldiers searched the premises, room by room, forcing open locked doors and in some cases shooting the locks off. Shots were fired into walls and equipment causing thousands of dollars in damage.

On 8 August, Israeli troops killed two Hamas activists and two civilians in the Askar refugee camp outside of Nablus, and within a week a senior ranking member of Islamic Jihad in Hebron. There followed a spate of Palestinian suicide attacks: two on 12 August and a third on 19 August, in which 23 people were killed in an explosion aboard a bus in Jerusalem.

Israel called off contacts with the Palestinian Authority, and the next day Israeli helicopters assassinated Abu Shanab. The 50-day cease-fire was over. On 6 September, after only four months in office, the Palestinian Prime Minister submitted his resignation. Later the same day, Israel attempted to kill Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, with an F-16-dropped 500lb bomb in Gaza City. Four days later, following suicide attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in which 15 Israelis lost their lives, the Israeli air force attempted, but failed to kill Dr. Mahmoud Zahhar, co-founder of Hamas. On 26 September, the Quartet issued a statement calling on the Israeli Government to '"take no action undermining trust, including deportations, confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure..."' According to Agency assessments, between 1 and 20 October Israeli forces had destroyed 189 houses in Rafah Camp in southern Gaza, leaving 330 families homeless (1,780 individual refugees). UNRWA estimates the cost of the damage in the camp at $9.5 million.

Emergency Employment Creation

UNRWA’s Emergency Employment Creation Programme is one of the most effective means of addressing the problems of widespread unemployment and deepening poverty in the oPt. Given the range and scale of UNRWA’s services through this programme, it is able to stimulate the depressed economy through the creation of job opportunities. At the same time, with larger numbers of employees UNRWA is able to maintain the levels of services needed to meet mounting needs. Through indirect hiring, the Agency creates job opportunities while improving the physical infrastructure of its installations including the paving of roads, building of shelters and expansion of schools.

a. Direct hire

Between July and September, UNRWA hired 5,427 people through its direct hire programme. A total of 1,276 were hired in the West Bank and 4,151 in the Gaza Strip. These workers were hired for 372,433 job days. Direct hire includes a range of professional and support posts throughout UNRWA installations: for instance, teachers in schools, medical staff in health centres, and administrative and support staff in field offices and headquarters. Insufficient funding has forced UNRWA to gradually curtail the number of employees in temporary positions in the West Bank. The number has fallen from 1,616 in the first quarter to 1,369 in the second and to 1,276 in the third. There has not been a similar drop in the number of employees hired in the Gaza Strip. To sustain the programme, however, the Gaza Field Office has had to forego expenditure on construction and maintenance projects that would have generated job opportunities for skilled workers in the building trades and unskilled labourers.

Over three-quarters of the Palestinians employed with UNRWA during the third quarter of 2003 were assigned to positions in the Gaza Strip, where poverty is more pervasive and deep. At the same time as the programme enhances the pride and self-esteem of the participants, the wages they earn ensure that they can meet the basic needs of their families. Together, those employed with UNRWA in the third quarter supported 37,985 dependants. Since UNRWA launched its emergency programmes of assistance, it has generated 3.6 million job days through direct hire, approximately 12 six-day weeks of work per individual employed.

b. Indirect Hire

Under-funding of the Agency’s January-June 2003 Emergency Appeal meant that no additional indirect hire projects were funded from that appeal. As a result, there has been a 43 percent decrease in the number of job days generated by the indirect hire programme between the April-June and July- September reporting periods. Funding is still needed for the extension of the indirect hire projects under the current Appeal in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The figures noted in this section reflect ongoing indirect hire projects funded by previous appeals.

A total of 21,638 job days were generated out of construction projects between July and September, 13,173 in the Gaza Strip and 8,465 in the West Bank. In Gaza, work was completed on schools in the town of Beit Lahya and Al-Bureij Camp. Work is continuing on schools in Qarrara and Ayyoubia, as well as the development of two workshops at the Agency’s Gaza Training Centre.

In the West Bank, 20 classrooms and eight specialised rooms were completed at schools in the Al-Fara’a Camp and Qalqilia. A radiological unit was completed at the health centre in the Nur Shams camp. Construction projects that were under way at the end of the quarter included a boys school comprising 30 classrooms and eight specialised rooms in the Nur Shams camp, 49 additional classrooms and 16 specialised rooms at schools in four other refugee camps, and a health centre in the Askar camp.

Emergency infrastructure projects include the building of roads, sidewalks, retaining walls and sewers. Road and alley work continues in two Jabaliya Camp projects in the Gaza Strip. Just as the Gaza Field Office has placed an emphasis on direct hire, the West Bank Field Office has placed an emphasis on indirect hire through community-based projects in the refugee camps. In the quarter, the construction of 40,747 m2 of concrete pathways, 2,955m of drains and 1,608 m2 of retaining walls entailed 11,266 days of work. In all, 12,960 workers have found temporary employment on the projects since the first Emergency Appeal was launched in October 2000. Together, they support 80,810 dependants. The West Bank Field Office implements a number of additional maintenance projects, which generated 924 job days during the reporting period. This constituted a 61 percent reduction from the April-June period, due to the reduced availability of funds.

Emergency Food Aid

UNRWA has the largest food aid programme, with the lowest cost per commodity, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A total of 319,018 food parcels were delivered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the reporting period. These food parcels benefited a gross total of 228,532 families with 21,310 tons of food.

Due to shortage of funds and movement restrictions, there was an overall reduction of 17 percent in the tonnage of food delivered between July and September when compared with the April-June period. In the West Bank, the quantities of food going to each household were reduced in the second round of distribution. A parcel that originally had gone to a twoperson household now goes to a household of three. Larger families receive two or more parcels, up to a maximum of four (the maximum was originally five). As a consequence, instead of providing 60 percent of each family member’s daily nutritional requirements (the Agency norm), the quantities now distributed meet only 40 percent of these requirements.

In the Gaza Strip, the Karni terminal crossing from Israel was closed by the Israeli authorities for 22 days between July and September. In addition, because of under-funding, the Agency has used up its last reserve stocks in Gaza. As a result of border closures, lack of stocks, the IDF-imposed division of Gaza into three areas, and continued under-funding, Gaza’s food distribution programme ceased activity between 18 August and 9 September.

Between 3 July and 18 August, UNRWA distributed 4 litres of locally produced olive oil to all West Bank food aid recipients. A donation of 6,000 tins of sesame paste from a company in Israel was distributed to families living in villages in the vicinity of Ramallah, one 950gm tin to each household. In Gaza, 41 additional food parcels were distributed to families who lost their houses as a result of the demolition of their homes by Israeli forces. A total of 491 labourers were hired under the job creation programme to assist in packing and distribution of food items in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Emergency Relief and Social Assistance

a. Cash and In-Kind Assistance

UNRWA's cash assistance program benefited 6,051 families comprising 33,622 individuals between July and September. A majority of these grants were given to households that have not had any source of income for many months. Cash assistance was also provided to families without a breadwinner and those requiring relocation due to home demolition.

UNRWA provides in-kind assistance to families who have lost their home or have been forced to relocate as a result of the emergency. A total of 571 families benefited from in-kind assistance during the reporting period: 362 in the West Bank and 209 in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the emergency programme, the Agency has provided a total of 1,589 tents, 98,870 blankets and 3,662 kitchen kits to Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

b. Post-Injury Physical and Social Needs Assistance

UNRWA provides physiotherapy and staff visits, as well as prosthetics and home adaptations for those suffering emergency-related injuries. A total of 545 home visits were made between July and September, 83 in the Gaza Strip and 462 in the West Bank. The Agency provided 35 prosthetic devices to disabled patients suffering injuries from emergency-related incidents, 25 in the West Bank and 10 in the Gaza Strip. Home adaptations were undertaken on four houses to accommodate the needs of the disabled, and occupational therapists worked with 114 disabled persons in learning how to look after their daily needs unassisted, for instance with washing and feeding themselves and in improving their motor skills.

Emergency Shelter-Repair and Reconstruction Israeli Demolition of Housing

On average, 73 Palestinian homes were demolished each month in the first half of 2003, more than twice the average in any month in either 2000 or 2001. During the short-lived truce, violence abated and demolitions were carried out less frequently. In all of July and August, the IDF demolished only one refugee shelter in the Gaza Strip.

With the collapse of the cease-fire in August and the escalation in violence since then, shelters have been demolished in greater numbers. In September, 34 dwellings were razed in the Gaza Strip.

Between October 1 and 20, UNRWA recorded the destruction of 189 houses in Rafah camp in the south of the Gaza Strip. Not since the April 2002 Israeli offensive in Jenin camp have so many dwellings been demolished at such speed. As a result of these actions, an additional 330 families, comprising 1,780 family members, joined the thousands of Rafah refugees who have already become homeless as a result of previous home demolition. A total of 293 additional dwellings that house 384 families (2,022 individuals) suffered damage at the beginning of October, and are now in need of repairs. UNRWA faces a bill of $30.5 million for the cost of its re-housing efforts in the Gaza Strip alone. Nearly 14,000 refugees have been made homeless in the oPt since October 2000.

Re-Housing and Repair in the Gaza Strip

On 15 September, UNRWA held an opening ceremony for the handing over of 83 new shelters in Khan Younis. These shelters house 86 families (474 individuals) made homeless by house demolition. The Agency has re-built 228 shelters, accommodating 236 families, in the Gaza Strip since October 2000. A total of 147 units are under construction and work on 103 further dwellings will start soon.

The Agency also undertakes repairs to buildings that are damaged, but not completely destroyed. Since October 2000, UNRWA has undertaken structural repairs on 1,035 shelters.

With the funds available under the January-June 2003 Fifth Appeal, the Agency was only able to purchase tents, blankets and mattresses for those made homeless instead of reconstructing homes. A total of $2.9 million has been made available to the Gaza Field - approximately one tenth of total funds required – for re-housing under the July-December Appeal.

Re-Housing in Jenin Refugee Camp and the West Bank

Between 10 and 30 September, the Israeli army made frequent incursions into the Jenin refugee camp, imposing curfews on its residents. As a consequence, work on housing under construction came to a standstill and work on the camp’s infrastructure, which had been scheduled to begin on 8 September, was delayed. On 30 September, work on the first two housing units was completed. Work on another 73 housing units was under way, and another 42 housing units were at in the tendering process. Surveys of all 435 housing plots have been completed, 211 of them in the devastated heart of the camp.

In the West Bank, UNRWA gives grants to families to rebuild demolished homes and fix major structural damage. UNRWA has assisted 161 households with reconstructing their demolished dwellings. Work on 70 of them was under way in the third quarter of 2003. Similarly, for dwellings that sustained structural damage, assistance has gone to 137 households.

Emergency Health Services

As a result of health-related needs arising out of the ongoing crisis, the Agency continues to employ supplementary medical staff to assist its operations in the health programme in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Between July and September, 259 supplementary medical staff were hired, 138 in the Gaza Strip and 121 in the West Bank. These staff included physicians, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and various support staff. Additional medical supplies were procured in the Gaza Strip.

Tight restrictions on movement have led to deteriorating standards of environmental health in the oPt. With an increase in the number of cottage industries in the refugee camps of the West Bank, the Agency is disposing of larger quantities of solid wastes. At the same time, closures are preventing UNRWA’s trucks from completing their collection rounds. As a consequence, UNRWA has had to supplement its waste removal services through contracts with private disposal companies. In the quarter, 1,280 truckloads of solid wastes were removed from seven refugee camps. Waste collection points were constructed in the Jenin, Askar and Nur Shams camps. In the Gaza Strip, a total of 1,200 laborers, supervisors and blacksmiths were employed under two shifts for various sanitation activities.

UNRWA continued to cover a portion of the hospitalisation bills for patients who were in need of emergency care and could not reach hospitals with which UNRWA has contracts. At the end of June, owing to insufficient funds, UNRWA was unable to renew the contracts it had concluded with hospitals in Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus to provide supplementary services for refugees unable to reach hospitals where UNRWA contracts services on their behalf. For a period, the Agency has had to transport patients in need of hospital care by ambulance to other hospitals further away with which UNRWA has contracts. Subsequently, new funds became available, and the Agency will renew the three supplementary contracts shortly. Between July and September, UNRWA assisted 677 patients in the settlement of their hospital bills.

Owing to the receipt of new vehicles and medical supplies at the end of the last reporting period, the Agency has significantly increased the activities of its mobile health teams (clinics) in the West Bank. A total of five teams are now working full-time, and between July and September, the teams treated a total of 31,351 patients during 375 area visits. Two teams serve villages on the outskirts of Nablus, two are working with villages in the Hebron area, and the fifth is undertaking visits in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

Psychological Support and Counselling

Under its emergency psychological counselling, the Agency assigns counsellors to schools and health centres throughout the oPt. Armed conflict and the tight regime of closure, poverty and prolonged curfews is the source 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 communitybased centres were underway throughout the reporting period.

In the Gaza Strip, there are two projects to assist in psychological and psychosocial support of the population under stress. These employ 176 counsellors as well as five area school counsellors. Activities were undertaken according to the chart below.

In the West Bank, outside of the education programme, 279 Palestinians met with one of the 14 psychological counsellors for a one-time consultation. Another 449 refugees met with the counsellors on a regular basis in 5,489 sessions. A total of 778 individuals sought counselling, including 325 children, 317 women and 136 men. A total of 137 support groups were formed for the elderly, children, women, men, and teenage girls. The groups met weekly and provided an opportunity for participants to discuss matters of particular concern to them.

Seven consultants, all of them psychologists, psychiatrists or other professionals in mental health, led 23 workshops for 367 employees in UNRWA’s education, health, and relief and social services departments on subjects including learning disabilities, common psychological disorders among children, crisis management, aggression, and family therapy. The workshops were conducted in Jerusalem, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah with social workers, teachers, head teachers, physicians and nurses in attendance.

Educational psychosocial support in the West Bank includes group guidance individual guidance, workshops and parent meetings. Figures are detailed in the table. In addition, three workshops for 110 school supervisors, counsellors and elementary school teachers on the subject of children with learning difficulties were conducted in the West Bank. Three workshops on the subject of crisis intervention were conducted in July and August with 137 head teachers and counsellors in attendance. Two school counsellors took part in a five-day training programme on life skills. A two-day workshop on psychological stress began on 29 September with 30 head teachers and counsellors in attendance.


The ability of refugee children in the oPt to receive an education is constantly threatened by closures, curfews and disruptions. Due to lack of available funds, all emergency education activities have ceased in the Gaza Strip.

Although schools were in recess in the West Bank, there were 7,097 students in remedial education classes in July, making up for classes missed because of curfews. These students comprise 12 percent of the Agency’s total number of pupils enrolled in the West Bank. In the first month of the school year, there were 138 remedial education teachers assigned to UNRWA's schools in the West Bank. A total of 5,922 students were enrolled in remedial classes in Arabic, and another 5,884 in classes in mathematics.

With funds allocated towards emergency education programmes in the West Bank, UNRWA offered summer programmes for 6,696 students enrolled in its schools. A 140-hour course in automotive mechanics was offered at the Agency’s Kalandia Training Centre, and 11 of the 15 trainees enrolled successfully completed the course. Another 50 trainees completed computer-training courses offered at the Ramallah Men’s Training Centre on 17 July.

Monitoring and Reporting

Operations Support Officers (OSOs) are particularly critical in making sure that food, medicines and other forms of humanitarian aid are distributed throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, particularly in areas experiencing difficulties in access due to Israeli-imposed closures. The OSOs also monitor observation by all parties of the privileges and immunities of UNRWA installations, staff and vehicles. Activities undertaken during the period included:

The Gaza Strip

West Bank


A. UNRWA Emergency Activities Fact Sheet
B. Spreadsheets: pledges and contributions received, all appeals, as of 1 October.*
C. Spreadsheets: expenditure report, 2003 Emergency Appeal; Combined expenditure report,
earlier appeals.*

*not included.

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