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United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
17 November 2008
UNICEF HUMANITARIAN ACTION
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) feature a range of humanitarian concerns due to the combination of economic divisions and rising hardships for vulnerable populations. There are a number of chronic and protracted conflict situations in the region, including Sudan, oPt and Iraq, that have resulted in massive population displacement. Countries in the region are also prone to natural and man-made disasters, including earthquakes, floods, drought, causing vast economic and environmental crises. The first half of 2008 has seen negative security developments in Algeria, Lebanon, oPt, Sudan and Yemen. … Growing poverty, forced displacements and increasing internal sectarian tensions have been the pattern in oPt, with major humanitarian concerns raised by the progressive cut-off of Gaza and the resulting disastrous consequences on access to essential commodities and quality of services. …
Key Results for Children:
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH):
… Drinking water was provided to the population of the Palestinian Nahr El Bared camp destroyed after the hostilities in summer 2007 and water supply schemes were restored as part of the camp’s comprehensive reconstruction plan. 20,000 people (including 6,000 children) have access to safe drinking water distributed from regularly re-filled water tanks; 300 housing units will be connected to a water supply network after the reconstruction.
…On the other hand, UNICEF and other UN agencies (UNDP, ILO, UN-Habitat, UNRWA and the UN Resident Coordinator Office) have already formulated a joint programme that will be implemented in theNahr-el-Bared Palestinian camp and surrounding municipalities, and which aims at providing the necessary assistance and relief to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the most vulnerable Lebanese affected by the conflict in the Nahr el Bared refugee camp and its repercussions. Another joint UN project will address the challenge of conflict prevention and tolerance, with a special emphasis on youth.
Although an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire with Israel has largely held since mid-June, Gaza remains under virtual siege, its borders closed by Israel, and with intermittent violence among Palestinian factions and clans. Shortages of all basics including fuel, electricity and safe water impede the delivery of life-sustaining services and degrade all aspects of daily life. Everyday, some 70,000 cubic litres of raw or poorly treated sewage is released into the sea
. Over 95% of industrial operations are suspended
and previously self-reliant families are increasingly food insecure
. A UNICEF assessment this year linked child malnutrition to lower household income. Military incursions and search and arrest warrants have increased across the West Bank, and construction of the Barrier continues, fuelling violent protests that inevitably draw in children. House demolitions have shot up since last year, as have attacks by Israeli settlers, including against Palestinian children walking to and from school. The closure regime restricting the movement and access of people and goods has improved little. At end-June 2008, there were at least 602 manned and unmanned physical obstacles across the West Bank
, up from 376 when the Access and Movement Agreement was signed in November 2005. As of 12 July, 69 children had died in the conflict with Israel since the beginning of the year, which is more than the total child death toll for 2007 (50). Distress levels, particularly among the young, are extremely high.
13. OCHA Humanitarian Monitor, June 2008
14. West Bank and Gaza Update, June 2008, World Bank
15. FAO / WFP / UNRWA Food Security Survey, 2008
16. Checkpoints, roadblocks, trenches, earth mounds, etc. that severely restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement.
Key Results for Children:
During 2008, UNICEF’s overarching goal is to mitigate the impact of violence on children, and reverse recent declines in children’s and women's well-being. UNICEF is focusing on eight out of 16 districts where the needs are greatest. To this end, UNICEF continued to support the Ministry of Health in maintaining service delivery through the procurement of vaccines and related supplies covering needs for all 117,000 children under 12 months, and tetanus toxoid for their mothers (117,000 pregnant women out of 880,000 women of child-bearing age). Despite extraordinary challenges, immunization rates have remained above 90%. UNICEF has tankered drinking water to some 200 schools, reaching over 200,000 students; provided emergency fuel to keep water and sanitation systems operational; and supported efforts to clean up wastewater treatment facilities. To reverse falling scores in school examinations, UNICEF provided summer remedial classes for 3,400 low-performing students in 90 schools. To improve secondary school retention and reduce violence among adolescents, 68 UNICEF-supported youth centres have reached 44,000 vulnerable teenagers with remedial learning sessions in Math and Arabic, and recreational activities focused on minimizing violence. UNICEF continues to support 14 psychosocial teams, each composed of 25-35 professionals and volunteers who provide emergency psychosocial support to children and families in conflict affected areas. As of mid-2008, these teams had assisted over 40,850 children and 10,100 caregivers (direct beneficiaries), with services ranging from in-depth counselling, emergency hospital or house visits, and stress relief. In addition, 100,000 children and 40,000 families were reached with mine risk and small arms and light weapons (SALW) education activities.
The political divide between Gaza and the West Bank poses a constantly evolving hurdle for UNICEF, both in terms of financial transactions and implementation. Since June 2007, more than 185 community-based organizations including a number of UNICEF-supported youth centres have been raided or shut down by the de facto government security forces. Although access of UNICEF goods into Gaza has improved, the long-lasting blockade has left infrastructure and equipment in water and sanitation systems, hospitals and schools, in urgent need of major repair, and UNICEF partners remain unable to bring in needed goods and equipment. New procedures applied to the movement of UN agencies, including searches of UN property and refusal to accept UN identification, pose new challenges to humanitarian operations. Since January, no Palestinian West Bank or Jerusalem-based staff has been allowed into Gaza.
UNICEF provides sector coordination leadership in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, child protection and education, and contributes significantly to WHO-led coordination in the health sector.
UNICEF’s appeal was budgeted at US$ 20.5 million based on the needs assessment framework completed by the humanitarian community in November 2007. In June 2008, under the midyear review for the CAP, the health, education and adolescent programmes revised their funding requirements downwards slightly because of funds made available, and due to the limited capacity of ministries and partners to disburse funds within the remaining calendar year. During the first quarter of 2008, UNICEF-oPT received an EPF loan of US$ 1,010,000 from HQ to meet immediate emergency
Emergency Programme Priorities: July – December 2008
For the remainder of 2008, UNICEF will focus on Gaza, which is reeling from over one year of closures and restrictions to almost all goods and movement. UNICEF will work with partners on the ground to continue providing quality, timely and reliable emergency assistance to children and women who have become increasingly dependent on external support. UNICEF will also work to reach West Bank communities living in enclaves or isolated by the Barrier, with quality basic health care, education and protection services that would otherwise be unavailable.
UNICEF will support partners in bolstering the networks and systems that protect and shield children from violence, beginning with households and communities, and including schools, health and social protection systems; and continue to advocate for humanitarian access for goods, services and staff critical to the survival and well-being of children and women.
Health and Nutrition:
Ensuring that children and women have access to essential vaccines, drugs and services;
Providing extra micronutrient support, including iron, folic acid, vitamin A and D.
Promotion of improved infant and young child feeding practices including: early initiation, exclusive breastfeeding and timely introduction of age-specific, nutrient-rich complementary foods.
Supplementation of children 6-59 months with sprinkles and pregnant and lactation women with multivitamin and mineral tablets.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH):
Rehabilitating and constructing water and sanitation facilities at 42 schools and 20 health centres.
Running remedial education programmes for students in vulnerable areas.
Providing at-risk children and adolescents with active learning, recreational and life-skills opportunities.
Continuing to provide immediate, comprehensive psychosocial assistance to children and caregivers in distress.
Providing support to socio-legal defence services.
Monitoring and reporting on Security Council Resolution 1612 on children in armed conflict.
Co-ordinating Child Protection sector emergency preparedness and response planning.
Working to reduce violence in a school setting.
Raising awareness in the community on ways to protect children affected by conflict and violence.