State of Palestine : Humanitarian Situation Report, End of Year 2020



• In 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the State of Palestine, with 154,097 cumulative confirmed cases, of which 50 per cent were women and 14 per cent were children under the age of 18. A total of 1,539 deaths were confirmed.

• In 2020, UNICEF provided over 320,600 Palestinian children and their families with safe drinking water, sanitation services, and the promotion of safe hygiene.

• UNICEF reinforced the capacities of over 50,000 education staff on safe school operation protocols and provided essential hygiene and cleaning materials to 2,250 schools.

• UNICEF with partners reached 11,900 vulnerable children (49 per cent girls) with structured psychosocial support including individual counselling, group counselling, life skills, child-parent interaction sessions and other psychosocial support group activities.

• More than 5,000 health professionals and 78,000 other people benefited from COVID-19 medical supplies distributed to health facilities across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including 22 treatment centres. UNICEF led the procurement process of medical supplies, including 65 Oxygen Concentrators, 57 items of equipment and supplies for Intensive Care Units (ICUs), 1,402 testing kits, 374,858 items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medications.

• The 2020 UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal funding requirement was US$ 19.6 million, and US$ 5.4 million (28 per cent) of the requirement was available.

Situation in Numbers

1,100,000 Total children in need of humanitarian assistance

2,200,000 Total people in need (HRP 2020)

123,000 # of children to be reached (HAC 2020)

280,000 # of people to be reached (HAC 2020)

Funding Overview and Partnerships

In 2020, UNICEF received emergency funding from Japan, ECHO, UNOCHA and the UNICEF Global Thematic Humanitarian Fund. The 2020 UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal funding requirement was US$ 19.6 million for 2020, and US$ 5.4 million (28 per cent) of the requirement was available.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

The State of Palestine is affected by a protracted protection crisis and suffers from chronic humanitarian concerns. This has significantly impacted the daily lives of 2.3 million Palestinian children and youth. More than a million children remain vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance.
The spread of the COVID-19 virus aggravated existing vulnerabilities, affected children’s well-being, and limited children’s access to essential services such as education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation and protection services.
As of 31 December 2020, there were 154,097 cumulative confirmed cases, of which 50 per cent were women and 14 per cent were children under the age of 18.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education system in the State of Palestine and resulted in the intermittent closure of schools, colleges and universities. In response, schools moved to distance learning programmes and platforms to limit the disruption to the educational process and the spread of the virus. However, in the Gaza Strip, more than 575,000 children and teenagers (over 50 per cent of the school aged population) lack access to computer equipment, a reliable power supply and the internet. Additionally, it is estimated that only 30 per cent of households in the Gaza Strip have internet, and these internet connections are often unreliable.

The 13-year closure of the Gaza Strip continues to limit the population’s access to basic social services and social assistance and restrict people’s freedom of movement. More than one million children have severely limited access to essential services and at least 500,000 children have restricted access to safe and clean drinking water.

Furthermore, Palestinian children’s access to healthcare continues to be severely affected. The Israeli permit system and the complex system of movement restrictions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the closure of the Gaza Strip, have all posed serious challenges to accessing healthcare services. In the Gaza Strip, children continue to face denial or delay in accessing healthcare facilities and specialized treatment outside of Gaza. On average, over 2,000 medical permit applications are submitted monthly (46 per cent females and 33 per cent children) a third of whom are cancer patients seeking medical treatment in the West Bank or in Israel.

Despite the temporary suspension of Israel’s announced annexation plan in the West Bank, the situation continues to be a source of concern. In 2020, the annexation plan led to significant tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the latter responding by suspending civil and security coordination with Israeli authorities between May and November. This had significant repercussions on several aspects of the lives of Palestinians, including health referrals, protection services, travel, amongst others. Additionally, the PA’s refusal to accept its clearance tax revenues from the Israeli government, which makes up over 60 per cent of its total revenues, coupled with a decline in overseas development aid, had serious socio-economic consequences for Palestinians.
It impeded the provision of many essential public services and restricted the PA’s capacity to pay the salaries of its employees. Although the PA announced its return to security coordination with Israel and overturned its decision to refuse to receive its clearance revenues from Israel on 17 November 2020, the relationship remains tense and there are fears of escalations if Israel resumes implementation of its annexation plan.