In 2017, Palestine refugees across the oPt continued to face Israeli occupation, repeated violations of human rights and high levels of violence, with individual, familial and community resilience stretched to the limit. In Gaza, the political and security situation remains volatile as the land, air and sea blockade entered its eleventh year. With employment opportunities stifled by the blockade – the unemployment rate remains among the highest worldwide – almost 1 million Palestine refugees are dependent on emergency food assistance, a tenfold increase on the 100,000 that required such support in 2000. Three and a half years on from the 2014 hostilities, which caused unprecedented destruction and loss of life, thousands of Palestine refugee families remain displaced and repairs to tens of thousands of homes have yet to be completed.
The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remains fragile. Palestine refugees continue to experience difficult socioeconomic conditions rooted in occupationrelated policies and practices imposed by the Israeli authorities. In addition to continued movement and access restrictions and shelter demolitions under a restrictive and discriminatory planning regime, Palestine refugees in the West Bank experience high levels of food insecurity. The lack of progress on the political track, coupled with the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, only add to this burden.
In 2017, US$ 402 million was required to cover the cost of emergency interventions in the oPt; however, as of 31 October, only US$ 138 million had been pledged, corresponding to 34.3 per cent of the total financial requirements. UNRWA would like to acknowledge the continued and generous support from its many donors that have allowed the Agency to provide emergency assistance to Gaza and the West Bank since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000. Within a global environment characterised by increasing humanitarian need and competing demands on resources, UNRWA may continue to face challenges in raising funds for emergency interventions in 2018 that could translate into: (i) reduced food assistance and/or Cash-for-Work (CfW) opportunities, leading to increased food insecurity levels; (ii) diminished access to psychosocial support that would further stretch Palestine refugee resilience and well-being; and/or (iii) diminished protective support for the most vulnerable, including women, persons with disabilities, and survivors of home demolitions and evictions. Emergency assistance provided by UNRWA constitutes the minimum support necessary to meet the critical needs of Palestine refugees. A reduction in such support could have a destabilising effect on the oPt. The humanitarian problems faced by Palestine refugees today must be addressed as a matter of shared international responsibility, pending a just and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Palestine refugee question, in accordance with international law and relevant General Assembly resolutions.
The 2018 EA addresses the priority humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in Gaza and the West Bank. It is guided by the following four strategic priorities:
Strategic Priority 1: Crisis-affected Palestine refugee households facing acute shocks have increased economic access to food through food aid / food vouchers, cash assistance and CfW.
Strategic Priority 2: Palestine refugees enjoy their rights to critical services and assistance including education; health; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and shelter repair.
Strategic Priority 3: Palestine refugees are protected from the effects of the conflict and violence, through the provision of mental health and psychosocial assistance and awareness-raising.
Strategic Priority 4: Effective management and coordination of the emergency response is ensured to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and neutrality of programme delivery.