Installations & Neutrality
UNRWA delivers services through our 1,300 buildings (or “installations”) across the five fields in which we operate (West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon). This includes schools for primary and secondary education, health centers for the provision of primary healthcare, registration offices, camp service offices in camps, microfinance offices, and other installations. Thousands of Palestine refugees seek and receive assistance in these installations every day.
Moreover, in times of conflict, UNRWA installations serve as designated shelters to provide sanctuary for internally displaced persons (IDPs), and this is one of the main reasons why we go to great lengths to ensure that our installations are managed in line with the Humanitarian Principles. For example, if one of our installations is marked with graffiti or displays political signs or flags, then this might imply that UNRWA has an affinity to a certain group and may put the installation in danger during hostilities. Therefore, our Neutrality Framework and Installation Manager’s Handbook have enshrined certain principles to ensure that each of our installations is only associated with UNRWA.
Installation inspections are our primary tool for ensuring that our buildings are maintained in line with the Humanitarian Principles. To further enhance centralization and standardization, new Standard Operating Procedures for installation inspections were issued in November 2018. All senior staff were empowered to conduct inspections and were assigned to an area other than their own in order to ensure greater objectivity and to protect against the risk of reprisal. Furthermore, a more targeted strategy was adopted, meaning that the frequency of inspections for installations with no history of serious violations was reduced from quarterly to bi-annually, freeing staff up to conduct regular follow-up in areas with serious violations.
Installation inspections include checks for: (i) proper use and placement of signage, including: flags, UN sign/logo, no weapons sign; (ii) ensuring that the building is free of political slogans, flags, posters and other markings; (iii) a short questionnaire for the installation manager on any experiences related to incursions, unauthorized activity and harassment of staff.