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Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the ICJ ruling on the West Bank Barrier
Ten years ago on 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice issued its ‘Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The Court found that the construction of the Wall, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, to be contrary to international law and that Israel is under an obligation to cease among other things, construction of the Barrier and to dismantle sections already constructed.
Since construction began in 2002, the Barrier has transformed the physical and human landscape of the West Bank. It has disrupted ecosystems, interrupted the contiguity of the territory, destroyed livelihoods and separated families and communities. The Barrier and its associated regime remains today the single largest obstacle to Palestinian movement in the West Bank, cutting people off from homes, lands and services, as well as traditional economic, social, cultural and religious centres, including East Jerusalem. With an average population of 27 per cent Palestine refugees, some 170 communities in the West Bank are directly affected by the Barrier.
UNRWA reminds the Government of Israel and the international community at large of the illegality of the construction of the Barrier and its associated regime. UNRWA echoes calls to comply with the Court’s 2004 conclusions, including that Israel should halt construction, immediately dismantle the Barrier and repeal all legislation or regulations pertaining to its construction and its associated regime.
On the eve of the anniversary, a joint advocacy event was hosted in the Bethlehem-area village of Al Walaja by the Humanitarian Country Team. UN officials including Felipe Sanchez (Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank) and James Rawley (UN Humanitarian Coordinator), along with Abdel Rahman Abu Atteen (head of Al Walaja village council), spoke on the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. A walking tour emphasized the history of the village and the effects of the Barrier, while a film, projected onto the Barrier itself, highlighted both the ICJ ruling and the devastating impact of construction.
Click here to view a short clip commemorating the 10th anniversary of the ICJ ruling.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, 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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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