Caritas Jerusalem, a Catholic humanitarian organization engaged in relief, development and social service projects throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, wishes to call attention to the worsening humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This is to follow up on the Press Release issued by Caritas Jerusalem, October 1, 2004, “Continuing Palestinian Economic Deterioration.” In that press release, Caritas Jerusalem pointed to the fact that since September 2000, “226,000 Palestinian households lost more than 50% of their usual income and about 22.6% of households in Gaza Strip suffered from highly critical living conditions.” This fact was documented in a comprehensive economic survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.[1]

 Caritas Jerusalem, a Catholic humanitarian organization engaged in relief, development and social service projects throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, wishes to call attention to the worsening humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This is to follow up on the Press Release issued by Caritas Jerusalem, October 1, 2004, “Continuing Palestinian Economic Deterioration.” In that press release, Caritas Jerusalem pointed to the fact that since September 2000, “226,000 Palestinian households lost more than 50% of their usual income and about 22.6% of households in Gaza Strip suffered from highly critical living conditions.” This fact was documented in a comprehensive economic survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.[1]

 

This already deteriorated situation continues to worsen by the day. This fact was starkly highlighted with the release on November 30, 2004 of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) 2005 (see http://www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/ – link Consolidated Appeals). This yearly appeal for funding by UN agencies and international NGOs for areas around the world facing acute humanitarian problems saw the OPT request over $302 Million Dollars (USD) for 83 priority projects, of which 19 were submitted by non-UN agencies.  In the appeal, 2/3 of the requested funds were for food security and infrastructure/emergency employment projects, while the remaining 1/3 of the appeal focused on psychosocial support, health, education, water and coordination and support services. Through this same process in 2004, these same agencies sought a similar amount of funds and received about half of their request. It is important to note that these requests are above and beyond all other normal programs and projects implemented by these UN agencies and other international NGOs working here in the OPT. It is important to note that the request for the OPT was the largest amount requested in the CAP 2005.[2]

 

The OCHA CAP 2005 presentation in Jerusalem on November 30, 2004 presented a very bleak picture of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They pointed out the following facts:

 

Since the year 2000:

 

  • Poverty increased from 21% to 47%
  • Unemployment – 34% of the population
  • Food – Decreased quality and quantity of food
  • Dependence – 1.4 million Palestinians receive food aid
  • Health Services – 50% of Palestinians in the West Bank go to inferior health services
  • Education – Net enrollment in primary school has fallen every year since 2000

 

Gaza is in a particularly acute crisis situation

 

  • In Gaza – 64% are impoverished and 25% live in deep poverty – these numbers expected to rise
  • Over 24,000 Gazans homeless from house demolitions
  • 41% unemployment in the Gaza Strip

 

The most likely scenario presented by OCHA was: “(1) Continuing economic stagnation and worsening humanitarian situation; (2) Further erosion of coping mechanisms, increasing needs and increased dependency on international aid; and (3) Access for humanitarian goods and workers continues to be interrupted.[3]

 

The reason for this humanitarian crisis – one word – ACCESS. Regular access to schools, health services, employment, markets, social facilities and religious sites has been seriously restricted. Access restricted by (1) Closures; (2) The West Bank Barrier; and (3) Restricted roads.

 

In response to this situation, Caritas Jerusalem is undertaking the following in this emergency humanitarian environment:

 

  • Strengthening our work in the health care sector and increasing the levels of locally provided services through our three medical clinics in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
  • Providing medical services via a mobile clinic to isolated communities in the Gaza Strip
  • Increasing the outreach of our Social Department to provide immediate support for impoverished individuals with assistance in the areas of:

           

    • Food aid
    • Clothing and shoes for needy children
    • Direct assistance to the elderly who are in need of food, social support, medicine and assistance in their daily living
    • Catastrophic medical assistance
    • Cash assistance to needy families facing serious personal emergencies
    • Job creation programs
    • Tuition assistance
    • Interest free loans targeted for small business development, personal and family emergencies, home loans and education

 

Those who wish to know more of our work or wish to know how they can support Caritas Jerusalem in these efforts are urged to contact us.

 

Caritas Jerusalem is a Catholic humanitarian organization engaged in relief, development and social service projects throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is part of Caritas Internationalis, a humanitarian network, which numbers 162 Catholic Member Organizations operating in 200 countries and territories.

 

If you do not  wish to receive press releases from Caritas Jerusalem in the future or if you want to sign up to receive general news articles from Caritas Jerusalem, please inform Caritas Jerusalem at communication@caritasjr.org, phone: +972 2 628 7574

 

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[1] http://www.pcbs.org/press_r/econ_9the.pdf

[2] The requested amounts for Sudan, Ethiopia & Liberia will be published later in 2004, pages 38-43, CAP 2005.

[3] Handout for Distribution, OCHA CAP 2005 Launch, November 30, 2004, page 5.