ACT Alliance Alert: A Forgotten Crisis: Gaza and West Bank

by Elisabeth Gouel | | ACT Alliance - Switzerland
Friday, 18 April 2014 12:51 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.


Occupied Palestinian Territory

A Forgotten Crisis: Gaza and the West Bank

Geneva, 18 April 2014

1.    Brief description of the emergency and impact

Years of blockade and political conflict have strangled economic development and increased poverty in Gaza. Around 540,000 food-insecure people and 74 % of families depend on assistance. Over a third of those able and willing to work are unemployed. According to OCHA, over 12,000 people are currently displaced due to their inability to reconstruct their homes destroyed during hostilities. Additionally, restrictions and delays at three main crossings mean that goods and humanitarian supplies, including essential medicines, entering Gaza have dwindled. In the West Bank the latest assessments confirmed that closures, constraints and the separation barrier are continuing to have a severe impact on livelihoods. After years of living under strict closures, the coping mechanisms of many households have been exhausted or severely strained. With rising poverty and unemployment, the food security situation has considerably deteriorated over the past three years, with four out of ten Palestinians food insecure.

2.    Why is an ACT response needed?

ACT Alliance member, the Department of Support to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches (DSPR/MECC) and its partner in Gaza the Near East Council of Churches (NECC) continue supporting the most vulnerable population aiming to eliminate their hardship and sufferings. NECC has identified four strategic priorities in 2014, which are common to Gaza: health, education, psychosocial support and relief. These priorities focus on preventing further deteriorations in health, psychological status, food security; promoting, protecting and upholding the rights of Palestinians, including in accessing services. NECC also wants to and ensure that it has sufficient capacity to effectively implement its programmes. In the West Bank NECC aims to enhance coping mechanism of vulnerable communities in rural areas in “B” and “C” zones through domestic farming.

3.    National and international response

Currently, the major players of humanitarian emergency response in Gaza are: Local government, UN agencies, NGOs and CBOs. Although the local government has virtual role during emergencies, they have insufficient resources to deal with all Palestinian needs in Gaza due to the prolonged chronic conflict.  The NGO sector plays a vital role in complementing the work of the government and contributes to bridging the gaps in the humanitarian system. NECC works in providing the service directly to people on the ground by coordinating with local government, UN, NGOs and CBOs. In the West Bank main actors serving in the areas are the Islamic Relief, Red Cross, PARC and the Near East Council of Churches- Jerusalem.

4.    ACT Alliance response

Within the on-going critical emergency situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, ACT Appeals have over several years contributed largely to mitigating the suffering of the most affected population and have enhanced NECC ability to respond flexibly to emerging needs in an extremely volatile conditions through the provision of humanitarian assistance to secure food, medicine, daily requirements, health and education services. While in the West Bank, the humanitarian assistance focused upon basic food aid package with a nutritionally balanced food basket and others considered continuation and expansion of cash assistance programs. NECC approach in domestic farming focuses upon improving rural livelihoods and to contribute to household food security by creating employment and ensuring availability and access to basic foods, and prevent rural households from falling into extreme poverty.

5.    Planned activities

DSPR is planning to provide the following support over a period of one year to families in Gaza:
•    2,000 families in the Gaza Strip will benefit from cash support of $50 per family
•    Approximately 50 unemployed men and women will benefit from the generation of 3,900 working days in the fields of general medicine, pharmacy, lab assistance and office support
•    15,000 patients (male and female) will benefit from partially covered medical services
•    Vocational training
•    Psychosocial support and recreational activities for children

In the West Bank, DSPR will provide fodder for average 3 livestock for three months serving 200 Households addressing vulnerable communities affected by the barrier and illegal settlements, of which 80 households in area “C” of the Jordan valley. In addition, potable water will be provided for vulnerable communities in Zone “C” for 500 households.

6.    Constraints

Due to the continuing closures and the imposed siege on Gaza strip, Palestinian situation is chronic at all levels of life. Livelihood conditions are deteriorated with lack of resources for securing people needs.  Additionally, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria borders attract the donors funding and take the top priorities. This may affect negatively the sustainability of projects in oPt as it could decrease the fund.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (