Memorandum submitted by Y Care International
1. Y Care International (YCI) is the overseas
relief and development agency of the YMCA movement in UK and Ireland.
YCI focuses on international youth development, in particular
supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in the developing
world. Y Care International develops and funds over 70 youth projects
in partnership with local YMCAs and YWCAs in 30 countries across
Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
2. Our current priority programmes target
young people at risk, working and street children, girls and young
women, young refugees and displaced people, and young people with
disabilities. Areas of programme work focus on six key areas:
skills development and employment, HIV/AIDS and health awareness,
citizenship and democracy, emergency and post-conflict work, youth
justice and rehabilitation and advocacy and youth leadership.
Y Care International offers support to YMCA and YWCA projects,
developed with local communities and youth groups, irrespective
of the race, colour, gender, nationality or religion of the participants.
3. YCI has worked in partnership with the
East Jerusalem YMCA since 1987. The East Jerusalem YMCA is a not-for-profit
NGO, working on behalf of Palestinians communities in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip. Part of the worldwide federation of YMCAs,
it was established in 1949 and subsequently set up a vocational
training centre in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Jericho.The
YMCA movement is based on Christian ideals but is equally an interfaith
movement, notably in the Middle East regionmany of the
staff and most of the beneficiaries of the East Jerusalem YMCA
4. YCI currently works with the East Jerusalem
YMCA in three main areas. These are: to provide financial and
technical support to its Women's Training programme and Rehabilitation
programme, to fundraise for the YMCA's Olive tree campaign and
to campaign on issues relating to the occupation, such as the
administrative detention and restrictions of movement of YMCA
staff and students.
5. There are a number of issues and concerns
affecting our partners in the Occupied Territories in the current
political climate. However, rather than attempt to cover all of
these issues, this memorandum will focus on one of the nine areas
identified by the enquiry and is of concern to YCI and our partner,
the East Jerusalem YMCA. This is:
The effectiveness of aid from UK and EU sources
on Palestinian poverty levels, how it is targeted and what could
be done to prevent it from being wasted or destroyed.
OF UK AND
EU AID ON
Background to the projects
6. In 2000, YCI was awarded a grant from
the Community Fund for a four year project to provide financial
support to East Jerusalem YMCA's Women's Training Programme at
the YMCA's Vocational Training Centre in Jericho. The Women's
Training Programme provides appropriate vocational training for
disadvantaged young Palestinian women. This training is relatively
unique in Palestine in that it addresses the lack of marketable
and meaningful vocational training opportunities for Palestinian
women, through non-conventional training in areas such as computer
and office equipment maintenance.The training is provided with
a view to them finding employment in this field, with support
from the East Jerusalem YMCA's Extension services Unit based in
Ramallah, which provides work placement opportunities for young
7. In 1997, YCI received funding from the
European Union for the East Jerusalem's Rehabilitation Programme
in Beit Sahour. EU funding ceased in 2001 and since then YCI has
been providing financial assistance with support from a UK based
trust. The Rehabilitation Programme assists Palestinian young
people and children that have been adversely affected by the conflict
by providing support services for those with disabilities in Palestine
and rehabilitation for traumatised victims of political violence.
8. YCI has been supporting the East Jerusalem
YMCA's Olive Tree Campaign since April 2002. The campaign aims
to replant 50,000 of more than 112,000 olive trees which have
been uprooted in the Occupied Territories over the last three
years. The initiative also has the support of YMCAs in England,
Sweden, Switzerland, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Each tree produces
17 litres of oil a year, and takes 10 years to mature and bear
fruit. Their loss has a devastating impact on local communities.
The campaign was launched in April 2002, and so far has raised
over £1,000 generated by UK donations. The trees which will
replace the destroyed olive groves are grown at a nursery in East
Jerusalem run by a YMCA women's training programme and will be
planted throughout the West Bank.
Policy of closure
9. The policy of closure was inaugurated
with the occupation in June 1967. An extensive network of fixed
and mobile military checkpoints now exists on roads inside both
the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
10. This situation has affected every aspect
of daily life for Palestinians. A tightening of the network of
military checkpoints and roadblocks has placed three million Palestinians
under virtual siege. In addition, poverty has increased rapidly
as a result of rising unemployment, the ability to move around
has been severely restricted, and concerns over safety have increased
11. Within this context, it has been very
difficult for the Women's training programme and the Rehabilitation
centre to be able run according to plan. The attack by Israeli
forces on the YMCA Extension Services Unit office in Ramallah
on the 8 April last year, along with Israeli damage to the Beit
Sahour Rehabilitation centre in May 2001, were a setback for the
work of the YMCA.
12. In addition, the inconsistent and arbitrary
nature of Israel's restrictions on movement for Palestinians has
made it difficult for the centre to plan activities strategically.
The closure and curfews, by Israeli forces, of a large number
of roads connecting the different parts of the West Bank has denied
free passage to almost every Palestinian. Consequently staff and
students have to pay double in some cases triple the transportation
tariff in order to be able to reach the YMCA centres.
13. The issue of access to the centres and
YMCA has been of major concern and distress to the East Jerusalem
YMCA. The YMCA have reported how some staff and students have
had to use precarious routes, through mountains and unpaved roads
in order to avoid the Israeli military checkpoints. YMCA staff
members from the Vocational Training Centre, living outside of
Jericho and many students from Jerusalem have been denied access
on several occasions from entering Jericho. Where staff members
have been unable to reach the centre, classes have on several
occasions had to be cancelled.
14. The East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitiation
centre has had to reduce their outreach work and physical contact
with field staff, and the centre's beneficiaries (those traumatised
or injured as a result of the conflict), due to road restrictions.
These restrictions have forced the YMCA to find alternative means
of reaching out to those in need, and maintaining contact with
their staff. Alternative means have tended to involve long and
more costly journeys, and depending on the telephone and telephone
conference calls to communicate with outreach staff, which is
often more costly and less effective than meeting face-to face.
OF YMCA STAFF
15. Of increasing concern has been the number
of YMCA staff and students that have been arrested by Israeli
soldiers and being held under administrative detention. Since
October 2002, three YMCA staff members and three students of the
YMCA vocational training programme have been arrested by Israeli
soldiers and placed under administrative detention. To date, one
staff member and three students remain under administrative detention.
16. All of the above factors have led to
Difficulties and delays for instructors,
counsellors and students to reach the Centres.
Halt in the fee payment caused by
the deteriorating economic situation.
Increase in some expenses such as
Delays in obtaining raw materials
needed for training.
Drastic decrease in orders to the
production unit (carpentry).
A 10% dropout, mainly from the boarding
sections (males and females) for the Jericho Vocational Training
A loss of jobs amongst recent graduates
of the YMCA vocational training due to the inability to access
their workplaces, or the closure of the company due to the economic
crisis and reduced effectiveness of the Extension Services Unit.
Added to that continuous cut-off
of water supply from the Israeli sidewhich provides the
Aqbat Jaber Camp, where the Jericho VTC is situated, with water
resulted in increasing the cost of water supply through buying
Inability of the VTC staff to follow
up with recent graduates in the field due to the difficulty in
17. On 26 January 2003, bulldozers from
Neve Daniel, an Israeli settlement, near Bethlehem, entered the
land of Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian farmer, and uprooted more
than 150 newly-planted olive trees in order to break ground for
a new bypass road. The bulldozers were "protected" by
armed settlers from Neve Daniel. Most of these trees had been
planted through the Olive Tree Campaign on 25 December 2002.
18. YCI and the UK government and EU's financial
support to the East Jerusalem YMCA over the past four years cannot
be used effectively to reduce levels of poverty amongst Palestinians
due to key issues associated with the occupation. These are the
Israeli restriction of movement placed on Palestinians living
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israeli confiscation of water
resources from Jericho, and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian
19. This violates the rights of Palestinians
as stipulated in the Fourth Geneva Convention and The Hague Regulations
(1907). Therefore, it is only by withdrawing Israeli troops to
positions held prior to September 2000 to allow humanitarian work
to be carried out unimpeded, lifting the closure and dismantling
checkpoints within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, by ending
all land confiscation and imposing an immediate freeze on settlement
activities that the YMCA will be able to carry out its work effectively.