Newsletter on UK development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Nov 2009

News and Press Release
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DFID's programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) supports the peace process; helps Palestinians in preparing for statehood; supports private sector development; assists refugees and provides funding for humanitarian assistance and early recovery activities following the conflict in Gaza.

Economic and social context

The Occupied Palestinian Territories comprise two separate regions: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

- Population: 3.9m (2.4m West Bank; 1.5m Gaza)

- 40% of Palestinians are below the age of 14.

- Unemployment is high: 40% in Gaza, 16% in the West Bank.

- 4.7m registered Palestinian refugees in the region (West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria)

How the UK helps

DFID has been working in the OPTs for over 15 years.

The UK plans to spend nearly =A3210 million between 2008-2010 on long-term assistance work.

Some of the support provided so far has included:

- =A375 million in financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority to help pay public sector salaries and keep basic services running

- =A337 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees across the region

- Provision of equipment to the Palestinian civilian police

- Funding of two investment conferences which have secured deals worth =A3700m for Palestinian businesses

- Financial assistance to Palestinian businesses

- Support to the Palestinian Authority for improving budgeting and planning processes

Humanitarian situation in Gaza

The recent conflict in Gaza resulted in the deterioration of an already serious humanitarian situation. The UK responded quickly to the crisis by pledging almost =A347m for immediate humanitarian assistance, early recovery and reconstruction activities.

The UK's response has made a real difference.

For example, with UK funding:

- Oxfam distributed over 43 million litres of drinking water to over 63,000 people

- The World Food Programme distributed two-month rations to more than 365,000 people

- Islamic Relief is providing ongoing psychosocial care to 1,228 children and their carers

- UNRWA provided food to 550,000 people

- Mines Advisory Group cleared unexploded ordnance from UNRWA schools, allowing 220,000 children to return to school

Nearly one year on, with 75% of Gazans still reliant on some form of food aid, 60% still without daily access to running water and the economy crippled, much remains to be done.

Helping people rebuild their lives after this devastating conflict continues to be one of our top priorities. But, with access into and out of Gaza severely restricted by the Government of Israel, meaningful recovery and reconstruction remains impossible.

The UK has repeatedly pressed the Israeli government at the highest levels for full, safe and unhindered access for aid, aid workers and reconstruction materials.