Today, the EU has announced €22.7 million in humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable people in Palestine, who are increasingly threatened by violence, hardship and a lack of essential services. Already affected by movement restrictions prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure has continued since the start of the global pandemic in the occupied West Bank.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “In these very difficult times, the EU is committed to helping vulnerable Palestinians ward off the threats to their lives and livelihoods. As a long-standing humanitarian donor committed to support the most vulnerable people of Palestine, the EU continues to provide assistance in critical sectors such as health care, education and safe water. Violations of international humanitarian law resulting in the forced displacement of civilians, often preventing them from accessing basic services and livelihoods, need to stop.”
Of the 2.4 million Palestinians in need of humanitarian aid, 1.5 million live under a closure in the Gaza Strip, where living conditions are steadily deteriorating. With these additional funds, the EU provides financial assistance to vulnerable families, offering safe education for children and trauma care to the injured who cannot leave Gaza for specialised care.
In the West Bank, the EU and several Member States continue to support a consortium of humanitarian partners that protects communities threatened by demolitions, evictions and settler violence, through legal and material assistance. Funding also goes to improving students’ access to quality schooling in a context of ongoing violations against education.
EU humanitarian partners have been quick to adapt their assistance to the coronavirus outbreak, putting in place measures to keep Palestinians safe. The EU has supported screening tents for healthcare facilities, hygiene materials for examination centres, cash transfers for vulnerable communities, and improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
Out of 5.2 million Palestinians, 2.4 million need humanitarian assistance. In 2019, tensions reached a new peak, leaving 135 Palestinians killed and 15,369 injured in both Gaza and the West Bank. More than a third of them were minors.
In the West Bank, 900,000 Palestinians have limited access to water, food, health care, education and other essential services. The population is subject to forced evictions and the demolition of their houses and vital infrastructures.
These are triggered by building restrictions, lack of building permits and settler violence. As a result, many Palestinians are separated from their land, families, schools, hospitals, workplaces and places of worship.
Palestinian children’s and young people’s access to education is hampered due to the demolition of schools and because of frequent obstacles students suffer from when they commute to and from school.