The protracted humanitarian crisis in the West Bank has left the Palestinian population particularly vulnerable.
Palestinians in the West Bank suffer from the effects of armed conflict and internal violence, as well as from occupation policies, such as confiscation and annexation of land, house demolitions and evictions, and the continued construction of the Barrier and settlements.
Many of these policies leave a growing number of refugees vulnerable to displacement, especially in Area C (the 60 per cent of the West Bank under full Israeli control) and East Jerusalem. Displacement can have devastating social, psychological, emotional and financial consequences, including:
- increased poverty
- deteriorating health
- limited access to food
- restrictions in access to land, water, markets and essential services.
Poverty and unemployment
Poverty rates among West Bank refugees are especially high, with 26 per cent falling below the deep poverty line. Refugees are more likely to be unemployed, with the rate particularly high among young people.
In communities such as Biddu or Barta’a, which are especially affected by the Barrier, unemployment is estimated to be over 50 per cent, reflecting the area’s previous dependency on work in Israel and Jerusalem.
Farmers report increasing difficulties accessing their agricultural land, as most is now behind the Barrier, threatening their income and livelihoods.
Settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank has increased over the last few years. Most injuries relate to attempts to occupy or damage Palestinian property in response to Israeli demolitions of settler outposts in the West Bank, and the announcement of the temporary freeze in settlement construction in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem.
What is UNRWA doing?
UNRWA’s emergency relief work in the West Bank focuses on the specific needs of particularly vulnerable groups such as groups at risk of displacement, herders, women, and people with disabilities.
Emergency programme factsheet (PDF)
UNRWA operates mobile health clinics which serve refugees with limited access to healthcare because of movement restrictions and economic constraints. The clinics make around 140,000 consultations per year. Emergency funding has also supported the provision of mental health services ‐ in the form of individual, family and group counselling.
Health factsheet (PDF)
Community mental health factsheet (PDF)
Job creation is the main tool for providing emergency support to poor families. UNRWA generates short-term skilled and unskilled jobs, with particular attention paid to vulnerable groups such as women, young people, disabled people, herders. It also includes refugees living in Area C and the seam zone between the 1949 Armistice Line and the Barrier.
Livelihood factsheet (PDF)
Food and cash assistance
The Agency provides food and cash assistance to the poorest refugee families, such as those without a breadwinner. Food aid is mainly provided to families with physical – as opposed to economic – difficulties accessing food.
Livelihood factsheet (PDF)
The Agency seeks to protect refugees against infringements of their human rights, such as eviction, displacement or access barriers. UNRWA monitors violations of international humanitarian law and advocates for the protection of Palestine refugees’ rights. It also provides emergency assistance to victims of house demolitions, evictions and refugees whose property is damaged as a result of the conflict.
Protection factsheet (PDF)
UNRWA is repairing 200 shelters that do not meet minimum standards for safe, dignified housing. These include homes that are overcrowded, unhygienic, dark, damp and hazardous.
Shelter factsheet (PDF)
WASH factsheet (PDF)
To ensure refugees have access to safe, adequate water supplies, UNRWA is repairing damaged water systems in 16 refugee camps. The Agency is also providing sanitation services, such as sewage and drainage systems, to eight camps that are not adequately served by local authorities.
Environmental health factsheet (PDF)
More about the West Bank