Israel’s military reoccupation, attacks, and siege of the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories (OPTs) continues to place severe strains on the ability of UNRWA to provide for the basic, let alone emergency, needs of Palestinian refugees. In November 2002, UNRWA announced that it was planning the region’s largest ever food aid program in order to stop the advance of malnutrition in the 1967 OPTs. During the first half of 2003, UNRWA plans to distribute food parcels to 222,000 families, or some 1.3 million people, an increase of 20-fold over the period just prior to the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000.

 
2003 Emergency Appeal
 
In December 2002, UNRWA issued yet another appeal to the international community to fund emergency operations in the 1967 OPTs for the first 6 months of 2003. The appeal covers emergency food, medical, health, and social assistance aid, job creation, and housing reconstruction and repair.
 
As already mentioned, UNRWA expects to provide food assistance to some 1.3 million refugees. Based on previous experience, the Agency expects that the average number of dwellings requiring repair in the Gaza Strip will be 45 per month. In the Gaza Strip an average of 38 refugee shelters per month have been completely demolished or damaged beyond repair since January 2002. If the Israeli military maintain the same policies, UNRWA predicts that by the end of June 2003, 304 houses will have been destroyed. Some 5,500 refugee shelters have been destroyed by Israeli military forces since the beginning of the second intifada.
 
Additional emergency assistance is required for medical care and education. There has been a 61 percent increase in the number of home deliveries and a 35 percent drop in the proportion of infants below six months of age completing immunization programs in the period from 2000 to 2002. The number of miscarriages has increased by 135 percent. Approximately 20 percent of patients are curtailing their stay in hospital, because they can not afford the cost.
 
Additional funding is required for lost teacher and student days due to curfew and closure. In the occupied West Bank, 72,571 teacher days were lost in the last school year, almost 14 times as many as the year before, while in the Gaza Strip 162,175 teacher days were lost since the beginning of the second intifada. Emergency funds are also required for psychosocial support. Of 531 students in UNRWA’s West Bank schools who were given counseling, for example, 99 exhibited aggressive behaviour, 55 others complained of fear and anxiety attacks, 40 were excessively agitated, 21 stuttered and 28 complained of bedwetting.
 
UNRWA Emergency Appeal, January-June 2003 [Convert to Figure]
 

Emergency Food Aid
32,489,362
Emergency Job Creation
29,258,302
Emergency Shelter Reconstruction and Repair
12,901,392
Emergency Health
3,071,976
Emergency Education
4,288,008
Emergency Social Assistance
10,146,080
 
1,559,097
Total
93,714,217

Source: UNRWA Emergency Appeal Fact Sheet, 10 December 2002.
 
Funding
 
Despite overwhelming needs among the refugee population, UNRWA continues to face severe funding shortfalls. These shortfalls are particularly disturbing given the massive amount of resources that is being marshaled to wage a new war against Iraq, which will likely lead to greater refugee flows in the region.
 
In February 2003, UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen warned that the Agency’s emergency activities in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories would run out of resources at the end of March unless donations were received immediately from the international community. As of mid-February UNRWA had yet to receive donations towards the US$94 emergency appeal for the first 6 months of 2003. By mid-March, however, the Agency announced that it had received contributions that would enable it to continue essential food assistance, but other emergency needs, including shelter reconstruction, emergency health services, and psychosocial support services remain badly under funded.
 
Due to the lack of resources, UNRWA has been forced to cut the size of rations, lay off 1,600 emergency staff, and stop payments for refugee hospitalization. UNRWA also warned that other urgent humanitarian operations, including re-housing refugees whose homes have been destroyed by the Israeli military, will also have to be cancelled.
 
“We are scraping the bottom of every barrel and stretching every dollar we have, but without immediate donations our emergency operations are going to grind to a halt. The cutbacks come at a time when the uncertain regional situation makes it ever-more imperative that we maintain a lifeline to the refugees in the territories. And yet the paradox is that our emergency funding for the year may be threatened because donors are holding back to see what is needed in Iraq.”
Peter Hansen, UNRWA Commissioner General
UNRWA Press Release, HQ/G/01/2003, 10 February 2003
 
Top 13 Donors to UNRWA Regular and Project Budgets, 2001
 

Donor Country
2001 Contributions (US$)
United States
114,781,440
UK and Northern Ireland
41,754,577
Sweden
21,365,899
Netherlands
21,284,298
Japan
16,535,138
France
16,235,388
Denmark
13,922,300
Norway
12,476,060
Germany
10,992,530
Italy
10,960,719
Germany
9,157,751
Spain
8,988,555
Canada
8,835,800
Switzerland
7,743,640

Source: Derived from UNRWA (Includes contributions to the regular budget and projects budget. EU contributions are included with individual EU member state contributions).
 
Top 13 Donors to UNRWA Emergency Appeals as of 31 October 2002, Emergency Funds include 4 October 2000 Flash Appeal, 8 November 2000 Emergency Appeal, February 2001 Emergency Appeal, June 2001 Emergency Appeal, 2002 Emergency Appeal and Supplementary Appeal. Includes value of in-kind contributions.
 

Donor Country
Confirmed contributions (US$)
US
66,302,259
UK
31,440,794
UAE Red Crescent
27,000,000
Netherlands
22,947,567
Italy
6,995,218
Germany
6,276,724
Sweden
5,471,797
Switzerland
5,329,273
Denmark
5,273,748
Belgium
5,242,125
France
5,095,186
Islamic Development Bank
5,000,000
Norway
4,934,078

Source: UNRWA (Figures are for confirmed donor contributions. ECHO contribution is included in individual European state contributions. US contribution includes USAID).
 
For more information on UNRWA emergency programs and UNRWA funding see the UNRWA website, www.unrwa.org
 
Online donations to UNRWA can also be made through the UNRWA website.