In oPt, including East Jerusalem, civilians continue to endure violence, displacement, dispossession and deprivation due to the unlawful policies and practices taking place in the context of a prolonged Israeli occupation. Of the 4.1 million people in oPt, some 35 per cent are now food insecure. Restricted access to essential services such as health care, education, and water and sanitation is due to the ongoing protection and human rights problems.
Humanitarian needs were most pronounced in Gaza, where an illegal blockade continued. However, serious humanitarian concerns were also evident in the West Bank. Lack of planning and zoning permits and an alarming increase in home demolitions put thousands of Palestinians at risk of displacement, most notably in Area C (under full Israeli control), but also in East Jerusalem. Nearly 1,100 Palestinians (over half of them children) were displaced due to demolitions by Israeli forces in 2011—over 80 per cent more than in 2010.
OCHA’s coordination work in oPt focused on strengthening coordination tools, particularly the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), inter-cluster coordination and the CAP. The inter-cluster system was formally established in 2011 to ensure greater accountability from each cluster lead. OCHA also led the inter-agency contingency-planning process through inter-cluster coordination to ensure preparedness following numerous warnings of violent conflict.
OCHA continued to lead the Displacement Working Group, a sub-working group of the Protection Cluster. It steered the transition of the group’s work to the clusters to improve accountability and predictability of humanitarian assistance after displacement.
At the request of the oPt HC, and in consultation with humanitarian and development partners and Palestinian authorities, OCHA helped focus the CAP to ensure it reflected humanitarian needs. Duplication was avoided by removing programmes already covered in development plans, such as the UN Medium-Term Response Plan. The resulting 2012 CAP focuses on protection, access to services and food security; has better links with longer-term programmes; presents reduced requirements ($416.7 million compared with $575 million for 2011); and prioritizes the most vulnerable people in emergency programmes.
OCHA made advocacy a key priority in 2011. It shifted from an isolated advocacy strategy to one that provides support to the broader HCT strategy. As chair of the HCT Advocacy Group, in 2011 OCHA led the development of the first inter-agency HCT advocacy strategy, providing a platform for all humanitarian actors to effect change on the priority issues identified: International Humanitarian Law, protection and accountability, forced displacement, movement and access, and humanitarian space. The strategy is continuously updated to reflect changes in the context and new legal analysis. All HCT partners have agreed on common advocacy priorities, messages and language for oPt to support more consistent and effective advocacy in oPt, Israel and internationally.
In 2011, more than 1,500 people attended OCHA’s 169 briefings on the humanitarian situation in oPt. The office organized 24 field tours for diplomats, visiting politicians, media organizations, civil society and religious groups. OCHA ensured that high-profile briefings and field visits were well prepared with targeted messaging, based on the HCT advocacy strategy. For example, OCHA’s Field Coordination Unit organized a high-profile visit to Area C in the West Bank for European Union heads of mission. This visit resulted in increased support from European Member States. OCHA published a Special Focus report on Area C and fact sheets highlighting issues such as demolitions, land access and settler violence. It published several widely circulated reports on key issues in oPt deriving from advocacy priorities, and mapped movement and access restrictions throughout oPt.
Capacity for effective coordination and response remained variable across clusters. Therefore, cluster coordination will require further support in 2012. Some clusters will benefit from technical assistance to enhance capacity to conduct needs assessments; others will concentrate on populating the new 3W tool, and analysing gaps and duplications in programming. The Information Management Unit will produce a new “Humanitarian Atlas”. It will bring together the updated access and closure maps for the West Bank and Gaza, along with 10 thematic maps that have been developed with clusters to highlight issues such as communities vulnerable to water scarcity, settler violence, housing demolitions and access restrictions.
OCHA supported humanitarian negotiations, providing policy advice and guidance to the HCT on access protocols, coordination of goods and staff entering Gaza, and procedures for UN travel through various crossings and terminals. Its Access Unit developed a new database for tracking requests for dual-use items (civilian and military) entering Gaza. It has played a key role in advising on negotiations related to exports from Gaza. OCHA also interceded on behalf of INGOs with local authorities and donors on issues that threatened to restrict humanitarian space and disrupt operations, including the closure of key INGOs.
In 2012, the Research Unit will produce the first annual humanitarian overview report on the major concerns affecting the humanitarian state of the Palestinian civilian population. The report will be organized around five key themes of the HCT advocacy strategy, and will develop baseline data and indicators for future monitoring advocacy efforts.