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Update 01/01 on ICRC assistance activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

05-01-2001 Operational Update

 Humanitarian Context  

Since the outbreak of violence on 28 September 2000, over 320 people, mainly Palestinians, have died and more than 10,000 were injured. Meanwhile, according to the latest estimates by the United Nations Office of the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO), the imposed mobility restrictions and border closures have resulted in an overall 50% reduction in domestic activity. This is due to the fact that farmers, workers, merchants and business people are unable to reach their places of employment, or cannot get the necessary inputs for their production.   As for the 125,000 Palestinians employed in Israeli-controlled areas on a daily basis, it is estimated that labour flows were only 15,000 between 9 and 22 October and 20,000 thereafter.

Consequently, it is estimated that unemployment has risen from 11% to 40%, that is from 70,000 to 260,000 people. The ensuing job losses exert a dramatic negative multiplying effect on the livelihood of households as reduced incomes lead to reduced consumption and hence to lower production, lower employment, and ultimately to even lower incomes.

The poverty rate in the Palestinian territories has increased from 21% to 32% between September 2000 and the end of December 2000. UNSCO estimates that it may rise to 44% by the end of 2001 even if there is a partial   relaxation of restrictions on mobility. Households are coping with the crisis by spending savi ngs accumulated over the last three to four years, when economic growth was fairly strong . They are also reducing non-essential expenses, adapting their diet to cheaper products , and borrowing money from the extended family. Solidarity networks further play a crucial role in supporting the most vulnerable. It is yet clear that if closures and mobility restrictions persist and get tighter, the coping capacities of vulnerable people will be seriously affected.

Evidence shows that there is no serious shortage of food and non-food items in markets and shops. Prices have remained relatively stable, although this also results from stringent export restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on tradable goods and from a loss of purchasing power.   It nonetheless appears that hardship arises mainly from loss of income rather than   shortage of supplies.

    

 Humanitarian Assistance  

    

Emergency committees have been established throughout the Palestinian territories, whereby public and private institutions cooperate at the municipal and district level to support the most vulnerable. The provision of relief is primarily carried out by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Palestinian Authority, which   have substantial logistics capacity and infrastructure.

  • The   UNRWA has implemented a food assistance programme aimed at supporting 85% of the refugee population over a period of three months.

  • The Ministry of Social Affairs provides cash and food   to hardship cases.

  • The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are elaborating job creation schemes, together with the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR), and the Ministry of Finance.

  • Certain donor governments have extended significant budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority, which represents an important contribution to support basic public services and social security.

    

 ICRC Response  

In view of the foregoing there does not appear to be a serious threat of malnutrition for the time being. Nevertheless, the ICRC, in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, intends to intensify its vulnerability monitoring in order to adapt continuously to the evolving situation. 

The ICRC continues to monitor closely the humanitarian situation prevailing in the occupied and autonomous territories in order to respond to and address humanitarian needs. In addition, the ICRC repeatedly reminds all those involved, and in particular Israel as the Occupying Power, of the respect and protection due to the civilian population according to international humanitarian law as stated in the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

It is important to note that there is a serious risk of access being made impossible due to a growing number of physical road barriers (e.g. trenches and concrete blocks) constructed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The ICRC will continue to systematically monitor lack of access to drugs, medical treatment, essential food and vital income sources, with a view to documenting representations to the relevant authorities to ensure both access to medical assistance and freedom of movement, in accordance with humanitarian principles and, where appropriate, the relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The ICRC's agreements with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities grant the ICRC access throughout the Palestinian territories.   The ICRC's protection-driven assistance strategy is targeted at the direct victims of the violence and closures. The objectives of this strategy are:

  • to address the medical, material and protection needs of such victims by relying on ICRC's privileged access throughout the Palestinian territories.

  • to contribute to facilitating access to sealed-off areas, to provide emergency assistance, in the form of provisional shelter, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, blankets and heaters to uprooted people whose homes have been seized or destroyed by the Israel Defence Forces. 

  • to provide an overall strategy to integrate donations from National Societies.

A comprehensive list o f the most seriously affected villages in the occupied territories will be drawn up in the near future. However, unhindered access of ICRC trucks, including access through Erez and Karne, has to be guaranteed for delivery in the Gaza strip before door-to-door delivery from Amman can be carried out, on the basis of the call-forward system. So far, the ICRC sub-delegation in Jerusalem has identified a number of West Bank villages to be targeted for non-food assistance. Overall, 25,000 families will benefit from this programme.

    

 ICRC logistics procedure:  

    

The ICRC has set up a logistics centre in Amman, operational since 16 November, and procedures for the implementation of the programme. Implementation of this procedure will involve the fleet management and maintenance of light vehicles, truck dispatch, and warehouse and stock management. Considerable planning and coordination will be required to ensure access to sealed-off villages.

The diagram below provides a schematic overview of the logistics and the procedures:

   

The ICRC logistics planning is based on a call-forward system allowing for distribution of ordered assistance goods within a delay of 5 to 7 days:

Day 0

Further to evaluations in the field, ICRC delegates - both in Gaza and the West Bank - forward their assistance orders to the ICRC coordination unit in Jerusalem which relays the overall order to the ICRC's logistics centre in Amman

Day 1

ICRC Logistics centre prepares packing lists and transport

Day 2-3

Request for transport is transmitted to ICRC Tel Aviv who liaises with the relevant authorities to obtain permission for the transport

Day 4

Permission for transport is transmitted to ICRC Amman

Day 5-7

Transport and door-to-door distribution of assistance in Gaza and the West Bank according to the order transmitted on day 0

    

The first assistance in place at the ICRC's logistics centre in Amman is a donation from the Kuwaiti Red Crescent, and consists of 2,500 food parcels weighing 25 kgs each to be distributed to families in Hebron old city (H2 area), which has been under curfew for most of the past three months. Deployment from Amman began on 31 December and will take approximately 10 days.   During the first three days, the ICRC with the assistance of volunteers of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) successfully distributed food parcels to 792 families, with the full understanding and cooperation of the relevant authorities.

 Contents of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent parcel :

lentils : 5 kg

flour : 5 kg

rice : 5 kg

vegetable oil : 2.5 ltrs

tea : 1 kg

sugar : 5 kg

milk powder : 1.8 ltrs

 Request to Participating National Societies  

The ICRC, as lead agency for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's activities in the occupied and the autonomous territories and in Israel, pursuant to the 1997 Seville agreement, i s coordinating the assistance work of all the National Societies and their International Federation. It, of course, also collaborates closely with the PRCS; activities carried out in direct support of the PRCS and related requests for contributions in support of the PRCS are not covered in this update but will be treated in a separate update.

As food is readily available on the market the ICRC will concentrate on providing non-food relief goods. Two types of contributions are sought, i.e. (a) cash for kind or (b) in kind, and their mobilization has been divided into two time-frames.

1. The first part shall be in position as of the 3rd week of 2001 and is requested in cash for kind or in kind:

 Cash for kind and/or in kind  

 21,500 blankets (medium to premium quality)  

 10,000 hygiene kits  

 240 jerry cans  

 150 tents  

 100 tarpaulins  

 150 kitchen sets  

 150 heaters (local purchase)  

2. The second part shall be in position as of the 8th week of 2001 and is requested in cash for kind or in kind:

 28,500 blankets (medium to premium quality)  

 15,000 hygiene kits  

    

The following list gives the exact contents of an ICRC hygiene kit:

  •  Washing powder (for hand and machine wash) : 2,5 kgs  

  •  Toilet paper : 3 packs of 4 rolls  

  •  Soap (individually wrapped) : 5 bars of 100gr  

  •  Toothpaste ( plastic tube) : 5 tubes of 75 ml  

  •  Toothbrushes (packed in cellophane) : 5  

  •  Shampoo : 2 bottles of 250 ml  

  •  Disposable razors : 1 pack of 5  

  •  Sanitary towels : 4 bags of 20  

  •  Bath towel (plain) : 1  

    

Ref. LG 2001-01-ENG