Foreword to the Humanitarian Response Plan 2020

By the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick

For this, the final year of the 2018-2020 cycle, humanitarian partners are appealing for a total of $348 million for the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). This is similar to the $350 million requested in 2019, but significantly lower than the $550 million sought in the 2018 appeal. The decrease does not reflect a reduction in the scope of need but rather an acknowledgement of continuing underfunding for humanitarian operations throughout the oPt: by end-November, only approximately 60 per cent of the sum requested for the 2019 HRP was secured, which, in real terms, represents a reduction in funding. This is despite the World Bank’s projection that economy in the oPt “is expected to slip into a recession in 2020 and 2021,” a fact likely to increase the scope of humanitarian hardship.[1]

Some 2.4 million people have been identified as in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2020, or one in every two Palestinians in the oPt: the full range of these needs is set out in detail in the accompanying Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). Of these, 1.5 million of the most vulnerable will be targeted, a slight increase from 1.4 million in 2019. However, this means that nearly one million vulnerable people, mainly in the Gaza Strip, will not receive any assistance through the 2020 HRP, even if the HRP is fully funded.

The Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, at the launch of the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territory in Ramallah, 11 December 2019

Gaza has registered some improvements in 2019, as detailed in the Context of the Crisis section below. Despite this, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, internal Palestinian divisions remain entrenched and recurrent escalations of violence threaten to ignite a wider conflict. The “Great March of Return” demonstrations continue, adding to the casualty caseload and to the pressure on the already overstretched health system. In addition to the continuing high rates of food insecurity, poverty, and unemployment, there are increasing signs of a deterioration in the social fabric in Gaza.

This includes the thousands of families who face legal action or eviction due to their inability to pay rent and other expenses, as well as reports of widespread drug addiction, a rise in suicides and a growing “brain drain”, as the young and educated try to leave Gaza. The situation of children is particularly worrying, as demonstrated by the rise in child labour and child marriage, and the 250,000 children suffering from severe or moderate mental health disorders. Failure to assist these vulnerable groups will further aggravate negative coping strategies and undermine resilience.

While the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is less severe, settlement expansion, settler violence, access restrictions, demolitions and evictions have increased during 2019, intensifying the coercive environment on vulnerable Palestinian communities and undermining hopes for a the two-state solution. Throughout the oPt, humanitarian organizations are also facing an increasingly difficult operational context, posing ever greater challenges to our ability to operate due to restrictions, political considerations, and attacks designed to delegitimize humanitarian action.

This adverse political and resource climate will require member states to increase their funding rates to enable us to provide basic services for the most vulnerable and protect the rights of Palestinians under occupation. An increase in humanitarian funding must be complemented by support for operational space in the face of increasing threats, and by political engagement to address the violations of international law that are at the heart of the protection crisis in the oPt. The 2020 HRP will maintain the centrality of protection at all levels of humanitarian action, as a shared system-wide responsibility, to enable Palestinians to cope with, and overcome, the effects of the protracted crisis while more sustainable solutions are sought.

[1] World Bank, Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, 26 September 2019, p. 4.