Recieved on July 27, 2002
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
US Agency reports looming humanitarian crisis in Palestine
AMERICAN MUSLIMS FOR JERUSALEM
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
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
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
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%,
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
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.