The United Nations and its humanitarian partners have launched Thursday a $502 million (€462 million) appeal for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) to help 1.6 million of the most vulnerable people. The 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) estimates that 2.1 million Palestinians across the OPT need some form of humanitarian assistance this year. Among them are more than 1 million children.
The people in need represent 58 per cent of the population in Gaza and one quarter of people living in the West Bank. The HRP comprises more than 200 projects, which will help people access essential services, such as food, water, health care and education, as well as ways to earn a living and support to improve their mental and physical well-being.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Occupied Palestinian territory is one of the most complex and challenging environments in which the United Nations operates. While the situation remains a protracted political crisis characterized by 55 years of Israeli military occupation, the humanitarian crisis is exacerbated by a lack of adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law, internal Palestinian divisions and the recurrent escalation of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
OCHA says the results of this factors are chronic protection concerns and humanitarian needs which will continue in the absence of a sustainable political solution and opportunities for further development. The humanitarian conditions created by the multi-dimensional crisis continues to impact all parts of the territory and affect every aspect of Palestinian life. Palestinians are in their fifth decade of grappling with the safety, security, financial and emotional consequences of occupation and political turmoil.
Despite its responsibilities as the occupying power and party to the Geneva Conventions, the Israeli government continues to implement policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in violation of the Geneva Conventions that aggravate the humanitarian needs and protection risks of the Palestinian people and threaten the humanitarian community’s ability to respond effectively.
Also this week, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has appealed for $1.6 billion (€ 1.47 billion) to provide health, education and protection needs for millions of Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Nearly 6 million Palestinian refugees reside in this volatile region. Most of them live below the poverty line. UNRWA does not assist all of the refugees but plays an indispensable role in the lives of millions.
“Across all the area of operations, UNRWA continues to play an indispensable role in the lives of millions of Palestine refugees. We work to maintain the delivery of basic services in an incredibly difficult financial and political context,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillippe Lazzarini on Tuesday. “Palestine refugees – one of the most underprivileged communities in the region - face unprecedented challenges and increasingly rely on UNRWA for basic services and in some cases the sheer survival.”
The UN agency provides primary health care for about 2 million Palestinians in the region. It runs more than 700 schools, providing an education to more than half a million children. Its staff of nearly 30,000 dispenses other essential services, including cash and food.
Lazzarini said there is no alternative to the services UNRWA is providing in the absence of a political solution for the Palestinian refugees. However, he warned that the UN Agency for Palestine refugees will not be able to continue this lifesaving operation without a more predictable, long term and regular source of funding.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency. The UN General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees. The agency operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States.
OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, coordinates the work of non-governmental organizations and other national and international actors in humanitarian emergencies. It is the principal international player on humanitarian assistance issues.
Full text: Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan 2023, Occupied Palestinian Territory, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), published January 25, 2023
Full text: UNRWA Appeals for US$ 1.6 billion for health, education and other basic services, UNRWA press release, published January 24, 2023
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