UNICEF Humanitarian Action: OPT Donor Update 04 Jun 2007



- Extremely volatile security context; intra-Palestinian fighting claiming dozens of lives.

- Ongoing public sector strikes hurting critical services including immunization and education.

- 10,000 children continue to die each year, mostly from preventable diseases and poor care for newborns.

- Some 380 children remain in detention facilities.


Midway into 2007, the outlook for Palestinian children is bleak. Security conditions in Gaza are at an all-time low. In the third and most intense round of factional fighting which began on 13 May, at least 37 Palestinians were killed and 114 injured. At least 20 children have died in the internal fighting since 1 Jan 2007, far more than the 11 children killed due to the conflict with Israel.

At this writing, families remained blockaded in their homes as heavily armed militants faced off on barricaded streets; high-rise apartment buildings had been set on fire and media offices shot at. Uncollected garbage was piling up on streets; and many shops and supermarkets remained closed. In past weeks, schools and internet cafes have come under attack by militants, placing children at the very heart of the violence.

Across the West Bank, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Israeli search and detention campaigns. The construction of the separation barrier, the growth of illegal settlements and outposts, and ever tighter restrictions to the movement of people and goods are crushing socio-economic life.

The Palestinian Authority itself is struggling to survive under financial sanctions imposed upon its Hamas-led government more than a year ago by Israel, the United States, the European Union and Canada. This has impacted negatively on PA ability to deliver social services in any meaningful way. Unpaid health and education workers have resumed their strikes, shutting down health clinics and schools. In May, immunization services and classes were suspended across much of the West Bank. Supplies of essential drugs remain at critical levels, while schools and youth centres lack the most basic learning and recreational materials, especially in remote areas.

Across oPt, 66% of households now fall below the poverty threshold; in Gaza, 8 out of 10 families cannot meet their daily food needs without help.

UNICEF support is needed more than ever to help prevent a further deterioration in children's well-being. UNICEF bases its programmes on our Core Commitments for Children in Emergencies, working in our areas of expertise and comparative advantage. UNICEF will scale up projects where there is need, focusing mostly in education, health, nutrition, child protection, adolescent development, water and sanitation.