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The ICRC launches a large relief programme in urban centres of the West Bank

14-08-2002 News Release 02/44

Geneva/Tel Aviv (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched yesterday a large relief programme to provide support for the most vulnerable population in the major urban centres of the West Bank. 20,000 families in nine cities and towns - i.e. approximately 120,000 persons representing 20% of the urban population - will benefit from this programme.

Through a system of vouchers delivered on a monthly basis, each identified beneficiary family will be able to purchase, from a recommended list and from a supplier pre selected by the ICRC, essential food and household commodities up to the value of 90 US$.

The serious deterioration in the economic situation of the Palestinian territories has put many people's livelihoods in jeopardy. Owing to the current situation of hardship, the ICRC has set up this programme which will run till the end of the year in order to provide support to families most affected by the consequences of violence, closures and curfews.

Moreover, the ICRC continues to provide food and non-food assistance in rural areas to 30,000 families (approximately 180,000 persons) throughout the West Bank as well as to 2,000 families in the Old City of Hebron.  The rural relief programme started in March 2002 and will continue until June 2003.

According to International Humanitarian Law, Israel, as the Occupying Power, has the clear obligation to ensure, at all times, adequate supplies of food, medicines and other basic needs for the population under its occupation. Neither the fact that the ICRC conducts a relief operation in order to respond to urgent humanitarian needs, nor legitimate security concerns of the authorities relieve the Occupying Power from its duties to ensure a sufficient supply for the daily life of the whole population. Therefore, the programmes undertaken by the ICRC are temporary and aim at meeting the urgent needs of the most vulnerable families. They are implemented in close cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, representatives of the civil society and with the assistance of the Palestine Red Crescent Society.