Recieved on July 27, 2002

In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
 
AMERICAN MUSLIMS FOR JERUSALEM
 

US Agency reports looming humanitarian crisis in Palestine
Urge Congress to support UNRWA and continued aid to Palestinians
 
Included below are the key findings of a recent U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assessment of the humanitarian situation in Palestine.  The report, which uses data from the World Bank, the UN and other groups, warns of an emerging humanitarian crisis.
 
Please take the time to call your Senators and Representatives in Congress and urge them to support continued U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and other financial assistance to Palestinians.  UNWRA is the main provider of basic services - education, health, relief and social services - to over 3.9 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.  An attack on UNRWA, which aims to eliminate US funding for the agency, is being led by Congress’ most virulently anti-Palestinian members.
 
President Bush, Secretary of State Powell and some members of Congress have repeatedly expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  The Administration has stated clearly that for peace to be achieved the economic situation of Palestinians must be improved.  Eliminating U.S. funding to UNRWA will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis and will further undermine America’s ability to play a constructive role in peacemaking efforts.
 
To find your Representative call the House Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 or visit www.congress.org and search by zip code.
 
To find your Senators call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or visit www.congress.org and search by zip code.
 
KEY FINIDNGS OF USAID ASSESSMENT
 Chronic and acute malnutrition is widespread among children under five years of age and increasing rapidly. 30% of children screened suffered from chronic malnutrition and 21% from acute malnutrition. These numbers have increased significantly since 2000 when only 7.5% and 2.5% of children suffered from chronic and acute malnutrition respectively.
Moderate to mild anemia is also evident. 45% of children under 5 years of age and 48% of women of childbearing age suffer from moderate to mild anemia.
More than 30% of the 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are dependant upon food handouts from the World Food Program and the ICRC or other NGOs. The number of Palestinians requiring food assistance is increasing daily. According to USAID analysis, approximately 50% of all Palestinians (refugee and non-refugee) require external food assistance to help meet their minimum daily caloric intake.
Of 320 households surveyed, 50% stated their need to borrow money to purchase basic foodstuffs, with 16% selling assets for the same purpose.
The March-April 2002 incursions brought at least a 50% increase in the number of Palestinian home demolitions since the beginning of the intifada.
The Palestinian Ministry of Housing reports that approximately 720 homes were destroyed by the IDF and another 11,553 damaged from September 2000 to February 2002. 73,600 people were affected.
The March-April 2002 incursions destroyed another 881 homes and damaged some 2,883 houses in refugee camps. An estimated 22,500 people were residents of these homes.
There is increasing risk of communicable disease outbreak. Due to diminished access to potable water, residence overcrowding, and inadequate shelter, possible disease outbreak, such as cholera, is a growing concern.
The medical treatment of Palestinians living in rural communities, and those with chronic diseases such as renal failure, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension, has been interrupted due to access, affordability, and availability-related issues.
According to Palestinian Ministry of Health estimates, births attended by skilled health workers have decreased from 97.4%, pre-intifada, to 67% currently. Home deliveries have increased from 3% pre-intifada, to 30%, at present.
Availability of immunization has decreased. Interruptions in electricity supply make medical facilities unable to maintain cold storage and cause vaccines to spoil, further aggravating growing health concerns. The child immunization program is breaking down.
According to the World Bank, 70% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live below the poverty line of less than $2 per day. Only 90 days ago, in April 2002, the World Bank estimated 50% of Palestinians were below the poverty level. The UN defines 62% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as "vulnerable" or in need of food, shelter, and/or access to health services.
A USAID environmental health assessment team found that of 300 households surveyed in Nablus, NONE were found to have drinking water acceptable to international standards. Fecal bacteria often contaminated water.
The incidence of diarrhea is increasing. This is indicative of unsanitary living conditions and questionable water supply. USAID preliminary findings indicate that 30% of the 320 households interviewed throughout the West Bank and Gaza reported diarrheal characteristics among at least one of its members during the first two weeks of June.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that because of closures and curfews, its facilities operate at about 30% capacity. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that 25 of its 121 ambulance fleet were damaged beyond repair by the Israeli defense forces. Curfews and closures cause ambulances to require 6 to 8 hours on average to transport patients to hospitals, if they obtain access at all.
In June 2002 USAID found that 28% of the 320 households interviewed had at least one family member who was not granted access to needed emergency medical services while 67% of households reported that access was not granted to at least one family member who required long-term treatment such as dialysis, hemotherapy, or diabetes management.
A Bir Zeit University study surveyed 764 households and found widespread psychological illness. 87% of households reported psychological difficulties in one or more family members.