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Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
30 November 2009



November 2009
SPECIAL FOCUS CRC @ 20: Twenty years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

In brief: CRC activities across oPt

The CRC @ 20

On 20 November 2009, the international community celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The most rapidly and universally ratified international human rights treaty in history, the 54 provisions of the Convention and its two Optional Protocols articulate the full complement of civil, political, cultural, social and economic rights for all children.

The Convention is guided by four principles: non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child in accordance with age and maturity.

These principles frame the action of all stakeholders, including children themselves, in realizing their rights to survival, development, protection and participation.

The CRC framework in oPt

State signatories to the Convention are obligated to amend and create laws and policies to fully implement its standards. They are also required to report to, and periodically appear before, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for examination on their progress with the Convention’s implementation. The recommendations issued by the Committee following Member State reports provide important guidelines for bringing state policy in line with the Convention, and serve as an important advocacy tool for civil society.

Although the Palestinian Authority (PA) endorsed the CRC in 1995, it cannot ratify the Convention, until there is an internationally recognised Palestinian state. Its endorsement, however, signifies moral duty to respect and promote the CRC standards within its jurisdiction, although it has no international legal obligation to do so.

Since endorsing the CRC, the PA has made progress towards enshrining its standards. In 2004 it adopted a Child Law, and has since produced 28 amendments, including in the areas of health insurance, compulsory education and juvenile justice. The amended Child Law has been approved by the Palestinian Council of Ministers, and awaits endorsement by the President.

Israel ratified the CRC in 1991. Its first State Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2001 did not include information on Palestinian children. Israel was due to submit another Periodic Report in 2008, but has not yet done so.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child holds that as the occupying power, Israel is the primary state duty bearer. This view is backed by the UN’s Legal Counsel. The Committee also expressed deep regret at Israel’s exclusion of Palestinian children in its 2001 report, while including Israeli children living in settlements within the oPt.

Israel is scheduled to present its initial Report related to the Optional Protocol on the Involvment of Children in Armed Conflict in Geneva in January 2010.

Israel’s non-compliance with the CRC reporting requirements points to the need for the UN treaty bodies – and especially the Committee on the Rights of the Child – to find improved mechanisms for compliance. This needs to include means by which the PA can report to the Committee without any derogation from Israel’s primary legal duties.

Progress and setbacks for children

While measurable improvements have been made in fulfilling Palestinian children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority 15 years ago, many of these gains are now in jeopardy. The 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 stress.

Survival and Development
Under-five and infant mortality rates improved between 1990 and 1999, but have plateaued since then. Almost 12,000 children under five years old still die from preventable causes each year, as do over 1,870 children below 12 months. The majority of infant deaths (67%) occur within a child’s first six days of life. Primary causes of neonatal death include prematurity /low birth weight, asphyxia, bacterial infections, and congenital abnormalities.
Infant Mortality (Per 1,000 Live Births)
YearoPtWBGaza
1990-199427.325.530.2
1995-199925.524.427.3
1999-200324.220.030.2
2005-200625.323.229.0
Source: PCBS MDG tables Under-5 mortality (per 1,000 live births)

Under-5 Mortality (Per 1,000 Live Births)
YearoPtWBGaza
1990-199433.231.037.0
1995-199928.727.231.2
1999-200328.323.734.8
2005-200628.226.032.0
Source: PCBS MDG tables

The proportion of underweight children under five years old dropped significantly, especially in Gaza, where the rate halved in 10 years, from 5.2 per cent in 1996 to 2.4 per cent in 2006. The proportion of children who are stunted, however, or short for their age, rose from 7.6 percent in 1996 to 10.2 per cent in 2006 (West Bank 7.9 per cent, Gaza 13.7 per cent).

There was a 14 per cent increase in the number of Palestinians connected to a water network between 1995 and 2006, but only 5-10 per cent of Gaza’s only aquifer is fit for human consumption, and up to 50 per cent of the water supply across oPt is wasted due to leakage in the system. Almost 200,000 residents of the West Bank are un-served by water networks.

In 2006, about two-thirds of households were not connected to a sewerage network and 70 to 80 per cent of domestic wastewater was discharged into the environment only partially or totally untreated. In Gaza, up to 80 million litres of raw or partially treated wastewater are discharged into the sea each day.

Education
Boys and girls are almost equally enrolled in basic education (grades one to 10), with girls more represented at secondary school level. Net enrolment rates improved from 87.5 per cent in 1994-95 to 92.1 per cent in 2001-02, but have since dropped back to 83.9 per cent in 2006-7. Enrolment rates plunge among 16- and 17-year olds: in 2007, secondary school net enrolment in government-run public schools was only 71.3 per cent.

Enrolment rates among pre-school aged children have declined sharply from an estimated 34 per cent among children aged four in 1996-7, to 25 percent in 2006-7.
Net Enrolment Rate in Basic Education
YearoPtWBGaza
1994-9587.583.794.5
1995-9686.982.295.4
1996-9787.982.997.0
1997-9889.886.595.2
1998-9990.987.995.8
1999-0092.289.396.8
2000-0191.789.195.8
2001-0292.189.296.7
2002-0392.088.797.2
2003-0491.388.196.2
2004-0589.086.593.1
2005-0687.584.891.6
2006-0783.982.785.8
Source: PCBS MDG tables

Learning outcomes are plummeting. In 2007-2008, only one in five out of 16,000 Gazan sixth-graders passed standardised tests in math, science, English and Arabic; as did about half of their peers in Nablus and Jenin. “Tawjihi” national matriculation exam results reveal downward trends in both sciences and literature. West Bank Tawjihi results in literature dropped by 12.7% and Gaza Tawjihi results in science dropped by 9.6% between 2008 and 2009.

Child Protection
A 2005 Palestinian Central Bureau for Statistics survey found that 51.4 per cent of mothers reported that at least one child had been exposed to violence. Of these mothers, 93 per cent said the exposure had occurred at home and 45 per cent said it had taken place at school. A 2004 Save the Children Sweden survey of 1,153 adolescent girls in the West Bank reported that 7.4 per cent of respondents claimed to have been sexually harassed by a brother, and 4.3 per cent reported to have been raped by their father. In a 2006 survey of parents by The Palestine Research Unit of the University of Geneva’s Graduate Institute of Developmental Studies, 63 per cent of parents surveyed reported their children were anxious; 46 per cent reported low school achievement; 42 per cent said their children were aggressive; 34 per cent said their children suffered nightmares; and 33 per cent reported lack of interest in extracurricular activities. CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CONFLICT More than 1,475 Palestinian children and were killed in conflict between the beginning of the second intifada in 2000 and the end of January 2009. During the 22-day conflict in Gaza last winter, at least 350 Palestinian children were killed, and over 1,700 injured. Some 280 schools were damaged or destroyed, along with about half of all health facilities, and over 50,000 homes. Since the beginning of 2009, an average of 375 children were being detained in Israeli facilities each month. Children as young as 12 are prosecuted in Israeli military courts, and are tried as adults as soon as they become 16, in contrast to Israeli law, where majority is attained at 18. Child detainees routinely report violations of their human rights during arrest, interrogation and imprisonment. Since 2000, around 6,500 Palestinian children have been detained through the Israeli military justice system.

The Economy
Between 1995 and 2000 the economy grew at an annual average rate of eight per cent. But in the wake of the second intifada, incomes plummeted so that by 2007 per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was 40 per cent below its 1999 peak. From an annual income of USD 1,622 in 1999, each Palestinian was living on just over USD 1,000 a year, just USD 2.70 per day, by 2008.

People Living Below the Poverty Line (%)
YearoPtWBGaza
199623.616.241.9
199722.515.638.2
199820.314.533.0
200127.9----
200425.619.837.2
200529.522.343.7
200630.824.050.7
200734.523.655.7
Source: PCBS MDG tables

Update on UNICEF action

Health and Nutrition
UNICEF and partners have reached over 40,000 mothers across oPt with information and skills on appropriate infant and child feeding practices since August 2009, and more than 100 health care providers and 30 community volunteers have been trained on nutrition counselling and support. In Gaza, over 4,500 home visits have been conducted since March to identify and care for severely malnourished children, and some 350 children have been referred to UNICEF-supported feeding centres.

Water and Sanitation
At end-October, UNICEF completed construction of a water supply mains and distribution network in northern Gaza that expands access to water for up to 30,000 people. Six small desalination units have also been installed at water wells across Gaza that will each provide up to 5,000 residents with safe water. Installation of two large desalination units, each with the capacity to serve up to 15,000, is expected by end-December. Only 5 to 10 per cent of water from Gaza’s only aquifer is suitable for human consumption.

Education
UNICEF delivered over 90,000 stationery sets, each including six exercise books, six pencils, two ballpoint pens, one eraser and one ruler, into Gaza in November. They will be distributed to 91,000 first- to sixth-graders in government schools. In Gaza some 500 teachers, 200 principals and 40 supervisors were trained on child-friendly teaching and school management methodologies, and 120 kindergarten caregivers have begun a 294-hour training course on early childhood care and development. In the West Bank, UNICEF-supported extracurricular sports and recreational activities and libraries are ongoing in more than 80 government schools. UNICEF also provided the Ministry of Education and Higher Education with 8,000, four-litre bottles of handwashing liquid as part of H1N1 prevention efforts.

Child Protection
A UNICEF-supported policy on non-violence in schools is being piloted in 20 schools in eastern Gaza. A base line assessment was conducted to assess the level and type of violence in the 20 schools at the start of interventions and against which progress of the pilot will be assessed.

Psychosocial Support
In Gaza, over 150 children received support from UNICEF-supported socio-legal defense centres on issues ranging from entitlements, psychosocial and legal assistance, and referrals, in October. Almost 100 volunteers and professionals were trained in psychosocial support. In the West Bank, over 1,400 children took part in group counseling, and more than 770 caregivers were provided with information on how to better support their children. Thirty-nine emergency visits were carried out to families and children who had experienced house demolitions and evictions, or were victims of abuse and intimidation.

Partnership for Children's Rights
On 10 November, UNICEF-oPt Special Representative Jean Gough and Bank of Palestine Chairman and General Manager Hashim Shawa signed a partnership agreement to support vulnerable families struggling to rebuild their lives in Gaza. Under the agreement, the Bank of Palestine will contribute USD 250,000 and donate one dollar for each purchase made by customers using a Bank of Palestine debit or credit card at over 3,000 points of sale across oPt. The partnership will support 20 “family centres” being developed in community-based organisations to meet a wide range of child protection needs. To read more, visit: http://www.unicef.org/opt

Support to Proper Infant Feeding
A UNICEF-trained counsellor talks to a new mother at Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest public health facility. Over 40,000 mothers in hospitals and community health centres have been targeted with information and skills on proper infant and child feeding practices since August 2009. Only 24.8 per cent of mothers in Gaza and the West Bank practice exclusive breastfeeding – a critical factor in reducing infant mortality linked to common childhood illnesses and under-nutrition. Around the world, only 38 per cent of infants benefit from exclusive breastfeeding.

Mia Farrow Visits Gaza and West Bank
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and American award-winning actress Mia Farrow visited oPt and Israel between 13 and 18 October. Her visit took her to Jerusalem, Gaza, Sderot, Tel Aviv, Jenin and Ramallah. In Gaza, she was joined by Egyptian actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mahmoud Kabil. It was her first trip to the region as a Goodwill Ambassador. For the full story, including video, visit: www.unicef.org/opt

Improving Hygiene Practices
More than 75,000 students at 148 schools across oPt celebrated Global Handwashing Day in October. UNICEF provided training for teachers and students, along with awareness-raising material, and soap for schools. Hygiene awareness activities will continue throughout the year as part of UNICEF support towards preventing H1N1 and waterborne disease.


Basic Indicators
1Total population (2010)
West Bank
Gaza
3,767,126
2,350,583
1,416,543
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007
2

Child population (under 18 years, 2010)
West Bank
Gaza
1,946,672
1,165,786
780,886
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007
3

Child population (under 5 years, 2010)
West Bank
Gaza
644,697
340,199
304,498
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007
4

Child population (under 1 year, 2010)
West Bank
Gaza
115,550
63,52
52,021
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007
5

GNI per capita (US$, 2007)1230The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF
6

People living below the national poverty line (%, 2007)±
West Bank
Gaza
34.5
23.6
55.7
PCBS, Poverty and Living Conditions in the Palestinian Territory, 2007
Health and Nutrition
7

Under 5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births, 2006)
West Bank
Gaza
25
26
32
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
8Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births, 2006) West Bank
Gaza
25
23
29
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
9

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births, 1995)70-80PCBS, 1995
10Children 12-23 months fully immunised (%, 2006)
West Bank
Gaza
96.4
94.4
99.4
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
11Children 12-23 months immunised against measles (%, 2006)
West Bank
Gaza
97.0
95.0
99.4
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
12Stunting prevalence (moderate & severe) among under-5 (%, 2000-2007*)10The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF
13

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
Gaza
2.9
3.2
2.4
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
15

Births attended by skilled health personnel (% , 2006)
West Bank
Gaza
98.6
98.2
99.3
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
HIV and AIDS
16 Prevalence of HIV/AIDS No data
Water and Sanitation
17Use of improved drinking water sources (%)
West Bank
Gaza
86.3
100.0
93.8
PCBS, Household Environment Survey database, 2003-2006
Education
18Use of improved sanitation facilities (%)
West Bank
Gaza
99.2
99.7
PCBS, Household Environment Survey database, 2003-2006
19Literacy rate of 15-24 year olds (Total/Male/Female; %; 2006)
West Bank
Gaza
99.1//99.1/99.0
99.1/99.2/99.1
99.0/99.1/98.9
PCBS, Labor Force Survey atabase, 1995-2007
20Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
West Bank
Gaza
99.3
99.0
99.5
PCBS, Education Census, 1994/1995 - 2006/2007
21Primary net enrolment ratio (Total/Male/Female; %; 2006)
West Bank
Gaza
83.9/84.7/83.1
82.7/81.7/83.6
85.8/89.3/82.2
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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