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Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories - Schooling continues

06-06-2002 News Release 02/23

Doing its utmost to return life to normal for the civilian population, the ICRC was quick to meet an unusual request from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, which finds its work hindered by the closure policy and strict controls in the West Bank.

The ICRC is doing its utmost to return life to normal for the civilian population of the occupied and autonomous Palestinian territories, who are protected by international humanitarian law. The aim is to do everything possible to ensure that civilians are not affected by the violence, to alleviate suffering caused by curfews and the closure policy, and to ensure access to essential items and services such as food, water and medical care, but also education.

The ICRC was therefore quick to meet an unusual request from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, which finds its work hindered by the closure policy and strict controls in the West Bank. The ICRC was asked to transport the official examination papers for students seeking a secondary school diploma and access to a university education. These exams will be held simultaneously in over 370centres in mid-June.

A whole range of logistical problems remain to be solved in a zone where any movement is subject to the vagaries of the security situation. In rural areas, for example, students and teachers must daily travel long distances, often on foot, to get to school.

" Education is our most precious resource " , said Naim Abu Hommos, Deputy Minister of Education. " Our young people must have access to it despite the violence that has seriously disrupted their studies. Without the ICRC's help, the school year would have been wasted for 30,000 students in the West Bank. "

The ICRC is also facilitating transport of the same papers to a number of Israeli prisons. Once procedures have been clarified, Palestinian detainees held there will also be able to take their final s econdary school exams.