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Middle East: Regional Programmes Annual Appeal No. MAA81001 Report 2006-2007

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This report covers the period of 01/01/2006 to 31/12/2006 of a two-year planning and appeal process.

In a world of global challenges, continued poverty, inequity, and increasing vulnerability to disasters and disease, the International Federation with its global network, works to accomplish its Global Agenda, partnering with local community and civil society to prevent and alleviate human suffering from disasters, diseases and public health emergencies.

In brief

Programme Summary:

The year 2006 saw increasing vulnerability in the Middle East as a result of deteriorating humanitarian conditions, particularly in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. The regional programme continued to target capacity building issues of the National Societies in the region in order to increase resilience, reduce vulnerability, stigma and discrimination, sustain capacities and improve the quality of services. Progress towards achieving objectives was attributed to improved networking and coordination, and standardizing and harmonizing trainings, protocols and guidelines.

The Middle East Humanitarian Crisis (July-August 2006) caused a delay in the implementation of some activities as the Middle East Regional Office was fully engaged in coordinating the International Federation response to the crisis in the affected countries in the region.

The regional programmes including objectives, plans of action and budget for 2007 were reviewed and adapted in line with the International Federation's Global Agenda, Federation of the Future and Framework for Action. Revisions were also based on the various experiences during the Middle East Humanitarian crisis and funding availability.

Goal: The programme aims at increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability of populations exposed to natural and man-made hazards, enhancing advocacy on priority humanitarian issues, including fighting intolerance, stigma and discrimination and promoting disaster risk reduction in the region through a shared responsibility and maximal cooperation and collaboration among National Societies and stakeholders. The programme also aims to improve the humanitarian services delivered to the most vulnerable by assisting National Societies in the region strengthen and sustain their capacities.

Needs: Total 2006/2007 budget is CHF 6,087,857 (USD 5,058,110 or EUR 3,717,595), out of which 37 per cent covered. This includes two projects in Iran linked to this appeal in 2007, with a total of CHF 739,825. Accordingly, the budget for 2007 increased to CHF 3,182,818.

No. of people we help: The beneficiaries of the regional programme are 17 National Societies in three sub-regions: Middle East, the Gulf and North Africa. The programme has been focusing on the capacity building of National Society focal points for specific themes including community-based first aid, HIV/AIDS, psychological support, gender, youth and volunteers, disaster management and information/communications. Some 105 National Society focal points participate regularly in thematic annual meetings. The International Federation also supported technically and/or financially capacity-building activities for priority National Societies. A minimum of 775 staff/volunteers benefited from training of trainers activities in community-based first aid, psychological support, HIV/AIDS, SPHERE Standards, project planning process, and Humanitarian Values, and training of National Intervention Teams. The National Society focal points, as well as the trained trainers are expected to create a multiplier effect by training National Society staff and volunteers at headquarters and branch levels.

Our Partners: The Middle East Regional Office works in partnership with several international organizations including World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Media networks, Partner National Societies, the other delegations in the region, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Arab Organization for Red Crescent and Red Cross Societies. Locally, the Regional Office coordinates with governmental and nongovernmental organizations through the host National Society (Jordan Red Crescent).

Current context

The region presents a high degree of complexity and instability. The current climate of violence in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq has led to deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

In Lebanon, extensive damage was inflicted on the civilian infrastructure during the summer conflict. A total of 1,187 civilians were killed and 4,092 injured. A total blockade of air and sea ports continued until 8 September causing major economic damage. Around one million people were displaced, mostly internally, but some 200,000 sought shelter in Syria and other countries. These returned to Lebanon after the cease-fire. The Federation launched an Emergency Appeal to support the response of the National Societies in the affected countries to this humanitarian crisis. Actions of the National Societies in the region focused on meeting the needs of the displaced people as well as building capacities to allow better response to future emergencies. See Emergency Appeal and updates at http://www.ifrc.org/where/reg_spcrep.asp?txtRegion=16

Now, after several months of the cease-fire, the political environment continues to be tense and unstable due to the failure to reach consensus on a national unity government through national dialogue.

In Palestine, the last six years of escalating conflict have left the Palestinian economy in crisis. The humanitarian conditions deteriorated following a financial embargo imposed by the Government of Israel and the donor community against the Hamas led government. The World Bank reported 46 percent poverty rate and unemployment rates above 23 percent. This unstable and economically difficult situation resulted in escalated internal infighting and chaos. Public service employees went on strike as a result of not receiving their salaries for several months, which affected the public sector essential services for the vulnerable Palestinians including education and health.

This economic crisis impeded the humanitarian services of the Palestine Red Crescent Society. In order to maintain life saving services, the Federation launched a Call for Support, followed by a revision to its appeal for 2007 http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf_appeals.pl?annual06/MAAPS00101AR.pdf.

In Iraq, the deteriorating security situation caused internal and external displacement of thousands of families and contributed to the increasing humanitarian needs. The Federation's ongoing operation in Iraq is covered by a separate emergency appeal managed by the country delegation based in Amman. See Emergency Appeal and updates at http://www.ifrc.org/where/country/cn6.asp?countryid=87

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the lead agency in the above described context and the Federation's role was focused on capacity building of National Societies as well as coordinating support to the National Societies in the affected countries.

Two National Societies, the Palestine Red Crescent and the Israeli Magen David Adom, were recognized by the ICRC and the Federation in June 2006 following the adoption of the 3rd additional protocol and the Red Crystal emblem. This achievement is expected to strengthen cooperation of the two National Societies with each other and with their partners.

Other humanitarian challenges include:

- The region is prone to natural disasters including earthquakes, floods, and droughts. There is a shortage of water in the region, with Jordan being the fourth poorest country in water resources in the world. In 2006, there were floods following heavy rains in Yemen and Jordan, which demanded the response of the National Societies.

- Some of the countries in the region are rich in natural resources, but variations exist between countries in terms of distribution of wealth.

- The potential threat of Avian Influenza continued. In 2006, the disease spread in some MENA countries, with Egypt and Iraq reporting human cases.

For further information please contact:

Gurgen Boshyan, Acting Head of Regional Office; email: gurgen.boshyan@ifrc.org; Telephone: +962 6 5694911; Fax: +962 6 5694556

Evgeni Parfenov, Regional Officer, MENA Department, Federation Secretariat; email: evgeni.parfenov@ifrc.org; Telephone: +41 22 730 4325; Fax: +41 22 733 0395

To support or find out more about the Federation's programmes or operations, click on www.ifrc.org