oPt emergency appeal 2004

Thursday, January 1, 2004

For more than 36 months the cycle of violence and despair across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has continued. The past three years have seen more than 2,500 dead - among them 8 UNRWA staff - and countless more injured. Many Israeli fatalities - military and civilian - have also resulted from the violence. The destruction of shelters and basic infrastructure has left thousands homeless and created untold suffering for Palestinian people. A strict regime of closures and curfews has led first to a contraction and then to a near collapse of the economy of the oPt. Unemployment rates have soared as a consequence, pushing more than 60% of the population into poverty - a threefold increase since the eve of the Intifada.

Against this backdrop, UNRWA continues to provide an emergency response programme that goes at least some way to meet the immediate needs of the refugee community across the oPt. Since the start of the current crisis, close to a million Palestine refugees have been saved from hunger as a result of the Agency's emergency food aid programme. In addition, emergency employment creation schemes provide tens of thousands of refugees with a subsistence wage that meets the basic needs of an entire family. Remedial education attempts to recoup some of the educational opportunities lost over the last three years. Psychosocial programmes working with communities, but particularly focusing on children, aim to lessen the longer term impact of the fighting. The provision of supplementary medical staff, funds for hospitalisation, and additional medical supplies have enabled the Agency to respond to the heavy increase in demand across the oPt.