Children in West Bank facing worse conditions than in Gaza

Areas of the West Bank under complete Israeli control have plummeted into a humanitarian crisis worse than Gaza, Save the Children warns.

A new report, "Life on the Edge", released today, states that an estimated 40,000 Palestinians living in Area C - the 60% of the West Bank under Israeli control - are unable to make urgent repairs to their sewage systems, schools, homes or hospitals under Israel's strict permit system.

Israel's restrictions on Palestinian access to and development of agricultural land - in an area where almost all families are herders - mean that thousands of children are going hungry and are vulnerable to killer illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia.

Conditions for children in Area C have reached a crisis point:

79% of communities surveyed recently in Area C don't have enough nutritious food - this is higher than in blockaded Gaza where the rate is 61%.

84% of families rely on some form of humanitarian assistance to survive.

Rates of stunting in Area C are more than double than in Gaza. More than 15% of children under-5 surveyed were underweight.

An alarming 44% of children in the surveyed area have diarrhoea - the biggest killer of children under-5 in the world.

Salam Kanaan, Save the Children UK's Country Director said: "in the past week, the international community has rightly focused its attention on the suffering of families in Gaza but the plight of children in Area C must not be overlooked.

"Palestinians in the West Bank are widely thought to enjoy a higher standard of living but tragically many families, particularly in Bedouin and herder communities, actually suffer significantly higher levels of malnutrition and poverty."

Across Area C, children are forced to learn in overcrowded, makeshift classrooms without electricity, access to functioning toilets or safe drinking water. Aid agencies are limited in what they can do to help by tight restrictions on building imposed by Israel.

Salam Kanaan said: "Palestinian children cannot wait for the stalled peace talks between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United States to find solutions to this crisis. Urgent action must be taken by the Palestinian Authority and the international community to ensure that children have safe homes and proper classrooms, enough food to eat and clean water to drink."

Save the Children works with the most vulnerable children in Area C providing counselling to children whose homes have demolished along with stationary and books for school. The organisation also does urgent repairs to damaged buildings and agricultural land where possible.

Notes to Editors

Figures in release taken from Life on the Edge (Save the Children report with research funded by the European Commission Humanitarian AID Office, June 2010) and Food Security and Nutrition Survey of Herding Communities in Area C (joint UNRWA/UNICEF/WFP Household Survey, April 2010)

For further information please contact Christine Whitehouse on +44 207 012 6701.