We last featured the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories in November 2004 – nearly five years ago. Since then, the humanitarian situation has steadily worsened. Continuing violence has killed, injured and displaced many and caused the widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure. Expansion of the controversial barrier wall and the related ‘closure system’ has undermined livelihoods, exacerbated poverty and caused a serious deterioration in basic services. These restrictions have contributed to an unemployment rate of over 40%, and associated low self esteem, depression and family violence. As the overview article by Philippe Lazzarini of OCHA makes clear, the crisis in the oPt is not just a humanitarian one: it is a crisis of human dignity.

This issue of Humanitarian Exchange focuses on this human dignity crisis. Articles set out the current situation in the oPt and outline the impact of the barrier and the closure system. Rolf Holmboe, Denmark’s representative to the Palestinian Authority, describes his government’s programme to enable municipalities to provide basic services and support community development. Other articles look at UNDP’s efforts to help individuals and communities to reclaim their agency and dignity, the hidden crisis of displacement, the impact of human rights group B’Tselem’s distribution of video cameras to Palestinian civilians and a community-based child protection programme instigated by Save the Children.

Articles in the policy and practice section include an examination of civil–military relations in natural disasters, methods for measuring the socio-economic impact of post-disaster shelter programmes and the challenges of emergency nutrition programming in Eritrea. Others focus on a new decision-making tool for use in complex humanitarian environments, the question of whether chronic conflict and recurrent disasters exacerbate social divisions or strengthen cohesion, the ways in which the media influence charitable giving and the lessons learned from the deployment of UN and EU hybrid protection forces in Chad.

Issue 44 articles