Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are living in conditions of severe hardship and social distress. A protracted socio-economic crisis, characterized by draconian restrictions on Palestinian movement and the repeated destruction of physical assets, has seen major increases in poverty and joblessness over the past seven years as household incomes have plummeted. Since the start of the Intifada in September 2000, the number of Palestinians below the poverty line has more than doubled; unemployment rates in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) have increased by a similar margin and are now amongst the highest in the world.
In light of sharply deteriorating conditions in Gaza and continued vulnerability in the West Bank, in particular for families most affected by Barrier- and accessrelated restrictions, UNRWA is launching a new appeal for humanitarian assistance in 2008. Interventions are designed to: (i) mitigate the worst impact of the crisis on refugees, through social safety net support for the most vulnerable; (ii) guarantee that access to basic services is not compromised and; (iii) respond to the impact of conflict- and non-conflict related violence. Special capacity components will ensure efficient and responsive service delivery and to support emergency programme development, in line with UNRWA’s broader Organisational Development Plan.