Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Executive Board of UNICEF, September 1997:

Madame President,

At the outset allow me, Madam President, to express the appreciation and thanks of the Observer delegation of Palestine to the members of the Executive Board and the Executive Director of UNICEF for their efforts and dedication to the promotion of the welfare of children worldwide. Allow me also to convey our deep appreciation and gratitude to the Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa section for the important role he plays in assisting the children of the region, including the Palestinian children.

Madame President,

The needs of Palestinian children and women, whether in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, or in the neighboring Arab countries have always been great given the historical background and the difficult circumstances they have been faced over the years. Their conditions have recently been exacerbated due to the deteriorating situation at all levels, especially in the economic and social sectors. As such, it is necessary for the international community and the United Nations system, including UNICEF, to give their greatest possible attention to Palestinian children during the present critical period. For real improvement in the condition of our children, additional resources, as well as the adoption of new approaches, are clearly needed.

Madame President,

We have carefully examined the recommendations for funding for the short-duration program cooperation for "Palestinian children and women in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Republic and the West Bank and Gaza". In this regard, we would like to share with you a few brief remarks and observations in an effort to further improve the activities of UNICEF for the Palestinian children.

  • We have noticed the attention given by UNICEF to the needs of the Palestinian children. This is illustrated in the recommended program cooperation for 1998-2000 for Palestinian children inside and outside the Occupies Palestinian Territory.
  • We are pleased that one of our concerns has been met, which is not the integration of the Palestinian program in one document. However, it is not clear how the program for Palestinian children in Jordan can be managed as integral part of the Jordan country program. We would appreciate some clarification on this issue.
  • The plight and the needs of Palestinian children in Jerusalem have been ignored. We wish to request an explanation for the reason that this important issue has not been addressed.
  • An official and legal framework of cooperation between UNICEF and the Palestine Liberation Organization is still in need. That would strengthen the work of UNICEF and would also define and organize its relationship with the Palestinian National Authority. This would also help to clarify the role of UNICEF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as vis-a-vis other United Nations agencies and various concerned NGOs there, which in turn will help us to avoid any overlap or unnecessary repetition of activities.
  • We wish to reiterate our belief that the language used in UNICEF documents, with regard to assistance to Palestinian children and women, is inconsistent with the language used throughout the United Nations system as a whole, including the UN organs such as the Security Council and General Assembly, as well as the Secretary General, and should therefore be adjusted. I refer specifically to the need to describe the Palestinian territory as the "Occupied Territory" and not West Bank and Gaza. This is standard UN terminology.
  • Due to the alarming increase, according to the recommendations for funding for the Palestinian children, of HIV/AIDS in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, we believe that UNICEF should give attention to this issue with regards to its effects on Palestinian children and women. Also, more information in this regard is needed and would be welcomed.

Madame President,

The children of Palestine are among the main concerns of the Palestinian National Authority. The allocation of more than 30% for education and health of the total planned investment will be more than fulfill the 20/20 formula of UNICEF’s strategic objective. Further, our priorities and strategies, which have been identified within the National program of Action for Palestinian children and women’s very much in line with the UNICEF proposed program recommendations.

We look forward to continuing our dialogue and cooperation with UNICEF in order to enhance and mobilize the necessary support for the agency’s programs for Palestinian children.