Future Humanitarian Risks in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Wednesday 26 April 2006, by Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees

The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) continues to highlight the prospective catastrophic situations that are expected to prevail in the Palestinian Occupied Territories in the aftermath of freezing foreign aid and tax revenue transfers. Our aim is to contribute to the prevention of a humanitarian catastrophe before it becomes too late to deal with and control its far- reaching consequences on human and economic development in the OPT. PARC finds the assessment report published by the UN Humanitarian Office on April 11 very important, and wishes to disseminate it now due to the fact that no possible departure from the current crisis has occurred.

The UN report has outlined and analyzed three future scenarios pertaining to the current Palestinian humanitarian plight:

1) The first scenario assumes the continuation of the crisis without abrupt change in the PA funding. The PA continues to receive aid and clearance revenue transfers as in 2005. Israeli measures continue to intensify through closure and permit regimes, arrest, incursions and shelling. The GDP drops from 6.3 per cent in 2005 to 4.9 per cent in 2006.

2) The second scenario assumes the persistent crisis with limited funds received from Arab countries whereas the western countries identify alternative financing mechanisms bypassing the PA. Additional to the anticipated trends and consequences of the first scenario, the second one poses increased violence, crimes and a critical state of chaos resulting from unpaid security staff. The Israeli restrictions on the trade crossings and on workers are tightened. Poverty rises to 67% in 2006 and by 2008 reaches 74%. Unemployment rises up to 40% in 2006 and 47% by 2008. The local revenues decline to 25 million dollars from $35 million. Entrepreneurs’ savings are exhausted and external investors turn away, and the GDP falls by 25 per cent. As a result, a dramatic deterioration of the economic situation is felt.

3) The third scenario assumes the persistence of the current crisis with all aid to the PA as well as tax transfers are totally halted. Unemployment under this scenario is worse than under scenario 2. Unemployment rates in the Palestinian governorates are expected to rise compared with the current rates. For example, the projected rates will rise by 25% in Gaza, by 20% in Salfit, by 17% in Tulkarem, and by 13% in Jenin, etc. Armed groups and factionalism will increase. The economy slides into a collapse far worse than in the second scenario.

The UN report indicated that the Palestinian Authority is the main provider and supporter of the various sectors especially education and health. For example, the PA runs 75% of schools and 62% of health clinics. It employs 39,000 and 12,000 Palestinians in the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health respectively. Therefore, neither the UN nor the non-governmental organizations can compete or replace the PA over vital services.

The report ends with UN’s promises to address any newly-emerging humanitarian needs in the OPT emphasizing that humanitarian assistance must be guided by need rather than political requirements. The UN report also emphasizes that humanitarian assistance must not replace the public sector responsibilities assumed by the PA such as health care and education.

The UN report reminds Israel as an occupying power of its responsibility to provide or facilitate assistance to the Palestinian people and to transfer revenues to the PA.

For a full report and further information, kindly contact:

Mrs. Juliette Touma

Public Information Assistant

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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