Study: West Bank Barrier has a devastating impact on the environment and Palestinian communities along its route

07 June 2012

7 June 2012
Jerusalem

The Barrier Monitoring Unit (BMU) of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) released today the preliminary findings of a joint study documenting the impact of the West Bank Barrier on the environment, rural livelihoods, and the already-vulnerable Palestine refugee population.

In the presence of Palestinian Authority Minister of Environment Dr. Yousef Abu-Safieh, ARIJ and the BMU presented three fact sheets and short films about the environmental impacts of the Barrier, including land degradation, severe flooding, the destruction of water sources, and deteriorated waste management.

UNRWA’s Felipe Sanchez noted: “The research presented today demonstrates once more that the Barrier not only has a devastating impact on Palestine refugees’ livelihoods, but also on the surrounding environment. The ARIJ/BMU study found that 90 per cent of the visited communities’ livestock numbers have been impacted by the Barrier’s construction. These communities report reductions in their livestock numbers of up to 60 per cent.”

Implemented over the course of a full year beginning in June 2011, the joint survey targeted over 170 directly-affected communities through focus group discussions with village council and municipality representatives, and farmers owning land behind the Barrier. It examines how the construction of the Barrier and its physical structure impact the environment and rural livelihoods, as well as how access restrictions have an effect on land use.

Preliminary results show that the Barrier has had a significant impact on land use. As farmers are either restricted or denied access to their lands now located behind the Barrier, the quality of this land degrades and remaining community lands are over-exploited. Further, the losses of livestock due to limited grazing space resulting from the Barrier has led to additional pressure on remaining pastures.

Director General of ARIJ Dr. Jad Isaac concluded, “The joint research presented today further underlines the necessity and urgency for the international community to pressure Israel, in accordance with the International Court of Justice’s 2004 Advisory Opinion, to immediately cease construction of the Barrier and to dismantle those parts of the Barrier already built.”

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Background information:

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

Lieneke Slegers (English)
Advocacy Consultant, UNRWA’s BMU
Mobile: 0542-168449
l.slegers@unrwa.org

Ilona Kassissieh
Public Information Officer
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8717
i.kassissieh@unrwa.org

Background Information

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees and deepening poverty. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals. 

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

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