In 2015, the United Nations announced its predictions that by the year 2020, the Gaza Strip would become “uninhabitable.”
While many of Gaza’s over 2 million residents argue that the territory is already unliveable, with sky-high unemployment rates and electricity that comes only a few hours in the day, the UN deadline is a mere few weeks away.
On Wednesday, Palestinian political leaders and civil servants joined UN officials to launch the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2020 in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
The plan, the final phase in a three-year response plan put forward by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), appeals for $348 million in aid “to provide basic food, protection, health care, shelter, water and sanitation to 1.5 million Palestinians” in Gaza, as well as the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to the agency, some 76% ($263 million) of the requested funds and resources will be dedicated solely to Gaza, given its “extremely fragile” humanitarian situation.
“Almost half the population [is]unemployed; nearly half the population lives below the poverty line of $5.5 per day and an estimated 62 per cent of households are food insecure,” the group said in a joint statement with the Palestinian Authority (PA), adding that basic services like health care and access to clean water “remains poor.”
Ongoing Great March of Return protests and the ensuing violence has, according to OCHA, exacerbated the already dire situations facing Gazans.
Meanwhile in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the ongoing threat of settlement expansion and the continued demolition of Palestinian homes has impeded Palestinian access to essential services and basic human rights, the statement said.
According to the Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, 1 in every 2 Palestinians in the oPt has been identified as being in need of assistance or protection in 2020.
However, due to the severe underfunding of humanitarian organizations operating in the oPt, it is estimated that even if the 2020 HRP is fully funded, nearly one million vulnerable people, mainly in the Gaza, will not receive any assistance next year.
“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,” McGoldrick said.
Divided into three strategic objectives, the 2020 HRP aims to remedy a number of problems facing Palestinians in the oPt until more sustainable political solutions can be implemented.
The three main problem areas to be addressed by OCHA, fellow UN agencies, and local NGO partners, will be problems related to: the protection of civilians and forced displacement, access to essential services like education and hygiene, and resilience and recovery (i.e. food insecurity, emergency shelter preparedness).
“The Palestinians are living in an abnormal situation caused by the occupation and the lack of access to their resources. This humanitarian plan is important and intersects with national priorities and government plans,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said at a press conference in Ramallah on Wednesday.
McGoldrick continued: “Our plan for 2020 prioritizes aid to those in greatest need. It is critical that the international community strongly supports the plan, while working towards the political solutions required to reduce humanitarian need in the oPt over the long-term.”