Amount of decision: 28.000.000 euro
Decision reference number: ECHO/-ME/BUD/2004/01000
1 - Rationale, needs and target population:
1.1. - Rationale
Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip)
Since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000, deteriorating living conditions, insecurity, and a sense of hopelessness about the future have prevailed in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).
With the Middle East Peace Process in a state of virtual suspension, and with little sign that it can be significantly reinvigorated any time soon, the oPt face a humanitarian crisis and have entered in a phase of de-development, as noted by the United Nations(1). It is widely recognised(2) that the main cause of this is Israel's closure policy, stemming from the overall security situation and consisting of a series of some 600 checkpoints and roadblocks. Settlements and bypass roads continue to expand. Furthermore, in 2003 Israel accelerated the construction of the so-called security barrier. Departing from the 1949 armistice line and twisting inside the occupied West Bank, the barrier is having a detrimental impact on the daily life of thousands of people. The part already constructed stretches over 180kms. The total length, including 45kms that are being built around Jerusalem cutting off East Jerusalem from other parts of the city, is 638kms(3). OCHA estimates that more than 200.000 Palestinians are already cut off from other Palestinian communities in the West Bank, services including health and education, and livelihoods. More than 2.850 acres of some of the most fertile, privately-owned Palestinian land have been confiscated and 102.320 olive and citrus trees destroyed. Residents of 71 Palestinian towns and villages are being separated from their farmlands. The barrier also limits access to water. In all, OCHA estimates that 30 per cent of the West Bank population, some 680.000 people, will be "directly harmed", including 80.000 Palestinians surrounded in enclaves and 20.000 wedged between the armistice line and the barrier in the West Bank.
According to the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund and the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, the West Bank economy grew by 4.5% in 2003. That is attributed in part to an easing of the most severe measures of closure, notably curfews whose frequency and duration declined in 2003. However, this comes in the context of an economy that had contracted by 50% in the period September 2000 to December 2002. In addition, it roughly matches the population growth rate, meaning that per capita income remains constant. Finally, and most importantly, the more than $ 1 billion that donors have provided, each year, in 2002 and 2003, for budgetary support, emergency and humanitarian aid, must be factored into the equation.
At the end of 2003/beginning of 2004, there were about two million people, representing 60% of the population, still living below the poverty line with less than $ 2 per day, as compared to 23% before September 2000. Nearly half of the people in working age were unemployed. Approximately 40% of the population were estimated to have reduced both quantity and quality food intake, with chronic malnutrition and widespread iron deficiency anaemia especially among children below the age of five. The daily level of water consumption in the West Bank, where more than 200.000 people depend on water brought in by tankers, continued to be half the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO)(4). The psychological impact, especially on children, remained dramatic.
In November 2003, the United Nations launched a humanitarian appeal for 2004 for an amount of more than $ 305 million(5).
As noted(6), "the frustration among donors over the diversion of development aid to humanitarian needs, coupled with the almost daily obstructions that Israeli security measures cause to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, is causing some donors to diminish or curtail their funding programmes... Only a lifting of the policy of closures, coupled with a continued commitment from donors, will assist the reconstruction and development of the Palestinian economy".
Lebanon hosts more than 390.000(7) Palestinian refugees registered by UNRWA(8). They represent 11.4% of the country's population. 56% of them live in 12 overcrowded camps. In addition, an estimated 45.000 non-UNRWA registered(9) and 5.000 non-identified(10) Palestinians live in Lebanon without any identification paper, mostly in unofficial gatherings, in appalling hygiene conditions and without access to the services provided by UNRWA, such as basic education, health and relief and social services.
Lebanese internal politics prevents these gatherings from gaining the official status of 'municipalities' that would entitle them to benefit from basic infrastructure such as water and sanitation services. The absence of an appropriate legal status and protection has put them in a situation of extreme vulnerability. Unemployment stands at about 40% and, in spite of their contributions to the fiscal system, those among the Palestinians who are employed do not have access to social security.
A Lebanese Ministerial Decree of 1995 prevents them from working in 72 trades and profession. Their freedom to exit and enter Lebanon, thus their opportunities for temporary work outside their country of residence, is restricted. For many of them working in Lebanon as daily laborers remains the only alternative. Most of the families have an irregular daily income of not more than € 1.5 per person.
In short, Palestinians in Lebanon remain a group of people with forgotten needs within a visible long-standing political crisis.
The EU drew attention to the plight of Palestinian refugees at the 3rd EU-Lebanon Cooperation Council on 24 February 2004 in Brussels, noting in its Statement at the Council that 'it urges the government [of Lebanon] to take steps to improve their rights as well as the humanitarian conditions facing those refugees housed in camps, underlining that poor social, economic and living conditions lead to despair and extremism'.
As of February 2004 there were still a total of 1.563 refugees, of various nationalities (mainly Iranian Kurds, Somalis, Sudanese, Palestinians), at the border area between Jordan and Iraq, of which 413 were in Al-Ruwayshed in Jordan and 1.150 in Al-Karamah (no-man's land) camps awaiting durable solution.
(1)United Nations, Occupied Palestinian Territory, 2004, Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP),New York/Geneva, November 2003.
(2)Among others: UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): OCHA in 2004, February 2004, and United Nations Development Programme and Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development: Arab Human Development Report 2003.
(3)OCHA, Update - Humanitarian Implications of the barrier, January 2004. The Government of Israel declared to the High Court of Justice of the State of Israel that the supposed length of the barrier is approximately 626kms, Hamoked vs Government of Israel, High Court of Justice 9961/03, pages 4-6. The estimated total cost is reported by OCHA quoting the Head of the Knesset Economics Committee at $ 3.4 billion, whereas other sources (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - UNRWA, and Palestine Monitor) refer to $ 1.4 billion and $ 400 million (CNN). The difference is explained by the fact that the higher figure includes security and maintenance costs as well as planned extension to other settlements and the Jordan Valley.
(4) 50 liters/person/day. Minimum level recommended by the Sphere Project is 15/liters/person/day. See: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster response, 2004 edition.
(5) United Nations, Occupied Palestinian territory, see supra.
(6) See briefing by Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the UN Security Council on 18 February 2004.
(7) Figure as of 30 June 2003. The number of registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has tripled over the last 55 years. However, accurate figures concerning the number of registered Palestinians who actually live in Lebanon are not available.
(8) Under UNRWA's definition, Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.
(9) Refugees of three different origins: 1) those who arrived as a consequence of the 1948 conflict but do not meet UNRWA definition; 2) those who arrived as a consequence of the 1956 Arab-Israeli conflict; 3) those who arrived as a consequence of the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967. These three categories of non-UNRWA registered refugees are registered with the Lebanese authorities.
(10) These are Palestinians who reside illegally in Lebanon. They include those who have lost their identity papers, those who arrived from Jordan in 1970-1971 after the expulsions of the Organisation for the Liberation of Palestine (OLP) following the events of "Black September", and those who were registered with the OLP in Lebanon but whose papers were not renewed following the expulsion of the OLP from Lebanon in 1982.