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Source: World Food Programme (WFP)
31 March 2006


World Food Programme Emergency Report 2006
Issued Weekly by the United Nations World Food Programme
Report No. 13 / 2006 - Date 31 March 2006



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(B) Middle East,Central Asia and Eastern Europe: (1) Algeria (2) Occupied Palestinian Territories (3) Pakistan

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(2) Occupied Palestinian Territories

(a) The Security situation reached an all-time low in March in oPt. Hostilities in Jericho sparked an unprecedented surge of kidnappings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (including one ICRC staff member and a number of NGO staff) and attacks against property of the International Community. Field operations were temporarily suspended over 13-14th March owing to security concerns.

(b) The situation has since calmed and operations have returned with a heightened warning for American and British citizens. The reaction to the Jericho incident shows how volatile the current situation is; this is still a very high risk anywhere outside Gaza City. The Gaza Security Management Team has stated that Gaza is likely to stay at phase 4 up to the end of 2006. The West Bank security situation remained volatile.

(c) The security situation has affected WFP Country Programmes in Gaza Strip. Notably the head of MOA office in middle Gaza was kidnapped for several hours on 27th March. Whilst MOA confirmed that this was not related to WFP food distribution, MOA was requested to postpone future distribution in the Middle area until there are guarantees for the safety of both WFP and MOA staff. CHF are realigning their programme avoiding all contacts with the municipalities in line with new USAID regulations.

(d) Successive closures since the start of the year have led to widespread food shortages and price increases with a high impact on the vulnerable Gaza population. The shortage reached a peak over the weekend of 17-19 March when the few bakeries that remained open introduced rationing to people waiting in long queues outside their premises. The access restrictions severely limited WFP and UNRWAs ability to reach the most food insecure population as both agencies rely on the depleted Palestinian mills for Wheat Flour. WFP met with all authorities concerned. WFP also issued a statement to the press and met with members of the donor community to advocate for facilitated passage of food to Gaza.

(e) As of 21st March, Israel agreed to re-open Karni crossings in a deal closely monitored by the US Mission. In addition WFP is now in the process of preparing a shipment of 1,000 tons of Wheat Flour to enter Gaza Strip through the complementary entry corridor of Kerem Shalom through Egypt in the coming days. Food shortages in Gaza are by no means over and it is essential that both entry corridors (Karni and Kerem Shalom) remain open so that essential food aid shipments to Gaza may continue.

(f) Curfews and closures continue to impede Palestinian access to work. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were closed to workers and traders from 12th March over Purim and the Israeli elections, workers and traders with valid permits were not allowed access to Israel and East Jerusalem for 60 percent of the reporting period despite reassurances. There were curfews affecting Nablus, Jericho and Qalqilia throughout the reporting period – in the last week (15-21st March) alone there were 38 hours of curfew reported. (g) Karni and Kerem Shalom (commercial crossings to Gaza Strip) have been open for nearly one week (21 – 27 March), although not at full capacity, allowing much needed basic food supplies to enter the Gaza Strip. Karni closed on 28 March because of heightened Israeli security concerns over the Knesset elections. Over the course of the last week, a serious improvement in incoming commercial flow through Karni was noted. However the level of food stocks in still low. The two WFP Gaza based mills under WFP contract have currently in stock 570Mt meanwhile they still have outstanding orders for 8,100 Mt. As of 29 March, Karni crossing had been closed for 46 days in 2006 or 53% of the year.

(h) UN National Staff remain currently unable to cross through Erez crossing owing to security procedures still under discussion; UN national staff in the West Bank also faced increased access restrictions.

(i) The new Hamas Government has been sworn in; whilst the US and Canadian positions are clear other donors are still hesitating with a clear statement regarding their policy. The financial situation of the PNA remains critical and the 150,000 employees remain uncertain of future payments.

(j) On the Israeli side the new centrist party, Kadima, formed by Ariel Sharon, came out as leader in the Israeli elections with 28 seats in the Knesset (of 120), much less than the polls predicted; Labour came second with 20 seats and Shas (the Orthodox Jewish party) third with 13 seats. The president will now assign a Prime Minister who will have 60 days to form his coalition of 61 seats.

(k) The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture officially confirmed (22 March 2006) the presence of H5N1 strain of the Avian Influenza virus in bird samples taken from a poultry farms in Juhr Al Deik (Gaza city) and in Rafah. Culling is underway under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture. No human cases have been confirmed so far. The outbreak threatens over 24 million poultry in the Gaza Strip. This in turn affects the livelihoods of farmers and labourers in the culled farms, some 25,000 rural families (150,000 individuals, owners of small shops, poor consumers.

(l) Under the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) 10387, basic food needs of both the Social Hardship Cases (SHC) and New Poor (NP) will be met through distribution of monthly family rations. While the SHC will receive relief food as part of the MSA programme, ‘new poor’ beneficiaries will receive food through participation in food for work (FFW) and food for training (FFT) activities implemented through CRS, CHF and MOA. The most vulnerable individuals living in institutions will be provided a daily food ration through the MSA in Gaza Strip and CRS in West Bank.

(m) In West Bank, the third distribution cycle for the SHC started throughout the West Bank. A total of 10,302 chronically poor households received 1185 tons of mixed food commodities throughout the West Bank during the reporting period under the November-December allocation.

(n) In Gaza Strip, a total of 666 tons of WFP food was distributed to 5818 HH of SHCs through MSA in Gaza and Northern Gaza (January/ February allocation).

(o) West Bank cooperating partners started food distribution in the Northern governorates, as part of the second phase of the FFW/T project (January-March).During reporting period a total of 22,124 new poor families received a total of 2,481 tons of mixed food commodities through CRS, CHF, MoA, in the West Bank governorates.

(p) In Gaza Strip 72 tons of food was distributed to 3733 farmer’s households through the MOA for the Jan-Feb allocation. 246 tons of food was distributed to 36,612 unemployed workers households through CHF (Nov/Dec and part of Jan allocation). CHF have adjusted their programme to work more closely with NGOs in place of the municipalities in line with new USAID regulations. CHF is also targeting more women in the FFW/T.

(q) Port Ashdod arrivals include: 652 tons of wheat flour, oil and chickpeas were delivered to Country Programme warehouses in Gaza Strip, 4557 tons of mixed commodities were delivered to CPs in West Bank. WFP managed to deliver total of 16 containers to Gaza through Karni on 22 and 23 March. Logistics finished the assessment of Kerem Shalom terminal assessment, preparation for test shipment of 1,000 tons of wheat flour was under way.

(r) VAM and UNICEF have been working on creating maps indicating needs and UNICEF's response to vulnerability by mapping specific areas. Two maps are being in a draft format. WFP logo will be added to reflect the joint work. These maps will be used by UNICEF for communication purpose to donors. Bilateral meetings continue with UNRWA and FAO on a technical level.

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