Aid Agencies Request $705M to Address Humanitarian Needs In 2015

RAMALLAH, February 12, 2015 (WAFA) – In collaboration with the Palestinian government, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Thursday announced the strategic Response Plan for 2015, which aims to address he humanitarian needs of around 1.6 million Palestinian in Gaza and the West Bank.

According to the plan, the funding required for 2015 is estimated around $20 million for education, $21 million for Health and Nutrition, $23 for coordination, $39 for WASH, $52 for protection, $225 for shelter and NFIs and $324 for food security.

Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa who represented the Palestinian government reflected on the past months and current situation and described it as the “grimmest” in history.

OCHA pointed that in 2015 there are about 1.9 million Palestinians in need of assistance, 1.3 of those are from the Gaza Strip and 0.6 in the West Bank. An estimation of $705 million is required for the response plan which expands through January to December 2015.

The data created by OCHA and handed out during a press conference held to announce the Strategic Response Plan for 2015, reveals that there are around 2.3 million who remain vulnerable to food insecurity.

In the presence of several world countries representatives, United Nations’ staff and journalists, a short video was displayed during the conference to show the hardship of the Palestinian population and its dire need for support. The short clip featured men and women who have been largely affected by the latest Israeli war on the Strip, especially children who, according to OCHA, receive around four hours of education on daily basis only.

The key goals of the plan are to enhance protection by promoting respect for International law and human rights, respond to immediate needs following shocks and increase the resilience of those at risk of forcible displacement, respond to food insecurity and promote resilient livelihoods, ensure peoples’ access to services, enhance the capacity of national stakeholders to provide coordinated response to emergencies and ensure transitional solutions for those displaced in Gaza.

Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa affirmed that despite international and local efforts, Palestinians in Gaza remain in need of urgent humanitarian support following the 51-day war.

He explained that the situation is not only critical in Gaza, but in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well. The situation is a result of the “backdrop of political impasse and the increasingly challenging economic and fiscal situation,” explained Mustafa.

On his part, the Humanitarian Coordinator James Rowley, who recently visited the Gaza Strip, summarized the situation for the audience, affirming that 2014 has been a tragic year for Palestinians as it also coincides with a sharp decrease in humanitarian aid.

Rowley said, “Approximately 100,000 people are still unable to return to their homes in Gaza, and in the West Bank thousands more live in chronic insecurity, at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods as a result of demolitions.”

Both Mustafa and Rowley placed great emphasis on the essential role of donors in altering the current situation in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Rowley explained, “If we lack full donor support for this plan, over 22,000 families could remain displaced. Moreover, up to 1.6 million people in the occupied Palestinian territory would be deprived of adequate water and sanitation services and food assistance, while access to basic healthcare and education would be compromised.”

The reconstruction of Gaza, though has been supported widely and met with pledges that amount to $5.4 offered by tens of world countries, the actual building process has not been launched as donors are yet to meet their pledges.

Aside from financial support, Rowley affirmed that several steps should also be taken to guarantee a sustainable reconstruction process.

Lifting the blockade of Gaza, guaranteeing Palestinians free movement, and trade between Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and the world, allowing people of Gaza to access restricted areas of shores and agricultural restricted zones are all measures that should be adopted urgently to support the building process, Rowley clarified.

Meanwhile, Mustafa touched upon the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian-owned land by Israel and mentioned in particular the recent Israeli plan to take over 2000 dunums in Hebron, in addition to other plans.

He addressed Israel’s ongoing freeze of Palestinians tax revenues and affirmed that such measures are paralyzing the Palestinian Authority’s capability of meeting its obligations, thus compromising development in the territories.

In agreement with Mustafa’s concerns, Rowley said Israel must be held accountable as an occupying power to ensure Palestinians dignity and that it has to immediately transfer tax revenues that it collects on behalf of PA.

Rowley called for a reconstruction truce from three to five years to allow for reconstruction efforts to materialize and the immediate reopening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

In support of previous concerns expressed by both Mustafa and Rowley, Robert Turner of UNRWA described Palestinians poor conditions saying that 2 out of 3 Palestinians are dependent on food assistance.

He said that 10,000 people are currently displaced, with the number expected to rise further in the future.