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IRIN - Israel





 



Occupied labour: The treadmill of Palestinian work in Israel

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 06:27:02 +0000

Driving near the concrete barrier that separates Israel from the southern West Bank, a car passes a Bedouin settlement, leaves the main road for a dirt one, and veers into a field. It stops next to a gap in the wall. Three men get out, rush through the opening, and are picked up on the other side – inside Israel. Further west, the ground becomes rocky and hilly. Four-wheel drives bring groups of men to another spot where the wall breaks. As the passengers step out, a car motors towards them, kicking up a massive dust cloud. The Palestinian men get in and the car speeds away towards an Israeli town. All of this repeats itself every few minutes each evening near Yatta, the West Bank’s third largest city, although it doesn’t look it: With a population of 65,000 on the dusty hills south of Hebron, its Old Town rarely sees an outside visitor, while piles of abandoned cars line its many winding streets. If Yatta seems forgotten, that’s because only 2,400 of its residents have jobs locally. Like much of the rest of the West Bank, the vast majority depend on the Israeli labour market for employment, in one way or another. This sort of dependency, fostered by 50 years of occupation, makes for a mean cycle. Salaries are higher in Israel, so young Palestinians look for work across the border. There is also less investment at home, and the local economy doesn’t create good jobs. For most West Bank Palestinians, crossing the border for work requires a job and a permit from the Israeli government. These can be hard to come by, so many take the illegal route, crossing through weak points in the barrier and finding lower paid informal employment. If caught, they face imprisonment. But for many, the risk is worth it. The Abu Bakr family* has a story like so many others in this small city: The oldest son can no longer enter Israel after repeated prison terms for crossing the wall illegally, the second oldest works on Israeli construction sites with a permit, the third does so without. The youngest, only 16, is looking to smuggle himself across the barrier for the second time during the summer holidays. Once there, he plans to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day, at a car wash. He’ll live on the margins of society, constantly fearing capture. It’s an unquestionably difficult life, but locals have little choice but to tie their fates to business on the other side of the concrete, barbed wire, and checkpoints. “Without work in Israel, no family can survive here,” explained Yatta Mayor Ibrahim Abu Zahra. The bottom line The UN says Israel’s occupation is the “main trigger” of humanitarian needs in the West Bank and Gaza. A strangled economy is part of that occupation. While Gaza continues to suffer under a blockade, the combination of a demand for cheap labour inside Israel and the West Bank’s struggling economy – brought on in part by restrictions on movement and trade – mean many Palestinians seek work in Israel and “aspire to that as a primary solution” to their economic problems, according to the International Labor Organization. By the ILO’s count, at no point over the last 15 years have so many Palestinians worked in Israeli jobs: currently around 120,000, who earn a quarter of the West Bank’s total salaries. Andreas Hackl/IRIN Yatta has the third largest population in the West Bank, but it often feels empty The cash flow from work in Israel may be considered essential by many individuals and families, but it comes at a hefty price: the sustainable economic development of the Palestinian towns themselves. The combination of political instability and Israeli economic restrictions mean no one wants to invest in Yatta and workers look first to work across the wall, said its municipal manager, Nasser Raba’i. “Our economy is completely entangled with the Israeli economy,” he told IRIN. Saleh, a geography teacher from Yatta, said it’s rare for school leavers to even consider building their employment futures at home. “A[...]



Unwelcome stranger: An African asylum seeker in Israel

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 06:48:00 +0000

This short documentary tells the story of Anwar, a Sudanese anti-government activist who fled his home in Darfur in 2003. As many as 300,000 people have fallen victim there to government-led ethnic cleansing and violence by rebel groups. Anwar survived and eventually sought haven in Israel, but it's not been an easy journey. His experiences, especially of detention and injustice, are telling and this film offers a rare window into the difficult and uncertain lives many African asylum seekers face today in Israel. Unwelcome Stranger: An African asylum seeker in Israel width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OY9PomBUBBg?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allowfullscreen="">   African asylum seekers began crossing Israel's border with the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula more than a decade ago, many having survived human smugglers and harsh desert conditions. At first, some of the arrivals – who now number around 40,000 and are mostly from Sudan and Eritrea – were granted temporary residency. But even though Israel is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention (and once took in several hundred Vietnamese “boat people” in the late 1970s), it has only ever granted refugee status to nine Africans. As the numbers of asylum seekers have grown, so tensions have heated up in South Tel Aviv, where many Africans live side-by-side with Israelis. In 2013, the Israeli government passed a law that deemed the Africans “infiltrators” and allowed them to be imprisoned in a desert detention facility, where they were first kept indefinitely, then for a 20-month maximum, and now for up to a year at a time. It has also attempted to send asylum seekers to African countries that are not their homes, including Rwanda and Uganda. Some who were shipped back have reportedly been pressured to leave those countries, and fled to Europe. A few were killed by so-called Islamic State or drowned in the Mediterranean. The asylum seekers have their supporters inside Israel. It’s not lost on some Israelis that many of the country's first citizens were survivors of genocide in World War II. Of course, the creation of Israel also kicked off the Palestinians' own refugee crisis – and politicians often refer to the "demographic threat" the Palestinians, both citizens of Israel and those in the occupied territories, pose to the country that defines itself as a Jewish state. Like the Palestinians, many of the African asylum seekers are Muslim. Recently, Israel said it would grant 200 people from Darfur a status that would allow them to work and give them other rights. But it’s not clear how these people were selected out of the approximately 8,000 people who fled Sudan for Israel. The years of limbo have taken their toll on Anwar. The political activist has had short-term visas, spent time in detention, and pleaded his case in court. He's made friends in Israel, even speaks the language, but still hasn't found stability or the protections the word refugee is supposed to afford. rg-as/ag Unwelcome stranger: An African asylum seeker in Israel anwar.jpg Roopa Gogineni Video Migration IRIN Africa Eritrea South Sudan Middle East and North Africa Israel [...]



World Vision "humanitarian hero" accused of funnelling millions to Hamas

Thu, 04 Aug 2016 18:27:06 +0000

Alleged fraud mastermind was nominated as a "humanitarian hero" in 2014 Germany, Australia, Gates Foundation among donors Scale of alleged fraud unclear World Vision and Hamas deny allegations The local head of Christian charity World Vision, who was featured as a “humanitarian hero” for the UN’s World Humanitarian Day in 2014, has diverted millions of dollars worth of cash and supplies to the military activities of the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza, according to Israel’s internal intelligence service. World Vision said in a Thursday statement it was “shocked” at the allegations against Mohammed El Halabi, who was arrested mid-June and held for 50 days (reportedly without access to a lawyer), and that it had “no reason to believe that the allegations are true”. It added that its programmes in Gaza were “subject to regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations, and a broad range of internal controls”. A 2015 evaluation of World Vision’s operations in Gaza found that “financial management, supporting accounting and procurement systems and financial reporting were very detailed and rigorous.” It further praised project managers for getting value for money in procurement. Israel says the alleged fraud illustrates “Hamas’ cynical exploitation of international humanitarian aid.” A Hamas spokesman told the Reuters news agency it had “no connection” to Halabi. Does it add up? The value of the goods and cash allegedly involved is unclear – Israel’s statements give a figure of $7.2 million and also say 60 percent of the charity’s annual budget was diverted since 2010, but it’s not clear how the figures were arrived at. According to some reports, the allegations are that over $7 million was diverted each year since 2010. Only fragments of public data are available to gauge the plausibility of fraud and deception on that scale, in part thanks to the opaque nature of charity finance and also because World Vision receives substantial funds – some 82 percent of its US revenue – from private individual donations that do not require detailed financial reporting, including church-related fundraising and child sponsorship. The International Aid Transparency Initiative, which encourages donors and aid agencies to share data on a voluntary basis, only has one record (a German government donation of $668,922) specific to World Vision’s work in Gaza over the last five years. IRIN has pieced together the few further available financial details (and will update here as and when more becomes available). The Israeli statements mention funding from the “United States, England and Australia” but do not specify whether government funds or donations from the public. A spokesperson for the UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee (an NGO fundraising consortium) told IRIN the group had provided £794,200 ($1 million at 2016 exchange rates) to World Vision in Gaza from its £19 million Gaza appeal haul in 2014. The spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate the diversion of aid funds for any purpose and particularly not for the support of armed groups. We are aware of the very serious allegations regarding the diversion of funds from the World Vision Gaza programme. World Vision is now urgently investigating these allegations but has said it has no reason to believe the allegations are true.” Some other sources of income for World Vision earmarked for Gaza: The largest donor visible in public data is Germany. It gave $3.6 million from 2014-2016, according to the UN Financial Tracking System. (Sources: FTS and IATI). Australia donated $933,707 also in 2014 for programmes dealing with the aftermath of the conflict. (Source: FTS) The Gates Foundation donated $500,000 for “reconstruction” in 2014. (Source: FTS) The data aggregator NGO Aid Map shows that World Vision lists only one project in Rafah, Gaza, funded by its income from individual donations. No financial information is provided. Risk Aid agencies face severe lega[...]



18 months on, Gaza donors still falling way short

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 11:18:37 +0000

Only 40 percent of the $3.5 billion donors pledged in October 2014 for Gaza's reconstruction has been delivered, new World Bank figures reveal. That's an increase of only $159 million since the last time the World Bank issued data on the donations in August 2015, and major pledgers continue to fall short: Qatar has given only 15 percent of its $1 billion pledge; Saudi Arabia 10 percent of its $500 million promise; and the UAE just 15 percent of the $200 million it pledged. Kuwait has dispursed none of its $200 million pledge. allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//datawrapper.dwcdn.net/BZbkB/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"> The World Bank estimates that if donor funding continues to come in at this sluggish pace, pledges will be fulfilled in mid-2019, almost two years behind schedule. The 2014 war between Israel, Hamas and other Islamist militants killed 2,000 Palestinians - mostly civilians - 66 Israeli soldiers, and six civilians in Israel. Some 11,000 homes were completely destroyed and another 6,800 severely damaged. Last week, the UN's emergency aid coordination body OCHA announced that as of its last survey in February, 90,000 Gazans are still displaced as a result of the fighting. Experts say that reconstruction has been slow due to limited donor money, Israeli restrictions on imports, and poor governance in Gaza. OCHA estimates that as of February 2016 only 16 percent of homes destroyed in the war have been rebuilt. as/ag 18 months on, Gaza donors still falling way short 201407170902070543.jpg Annie Slemrod Maps and Graphics Aid and Policy Conflict JERUSALEM IRIN Middle East and North Africa Palestine Israel العربية [...]



Israel ramps up home demolitions

Wed, 30 Mar 2016 09:49:39 +0000

As Palestinians mark the 40th anniversary of Land Day, home demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem appear to be on the rise.

As of 21 March, Israel had already destroyed 370 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and 36 in East Jerusalem in 2016, displacing 534 people.

In comparison, a total of 447 structures in the West Bank and 74 in East Jerusalem were knocked down in all of 2015.

allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//datawrapper.dwcdn.net/BZ2tn/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%">

Land Day commemorates a 1976 mass protest by Palestinian citizens of Israel over the government’s confiscation of land. Six Arab-Israelis were killed in clashes, and since then the day has been an annual demonstration against Israeli policies in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Home demolitions are done for both administrative and punitive reasons, and they don’t just take place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: Israel also takes down structures inside Israel, mostly in Bedouin villages that aren’t recognised by the state.

For more on the different types of demolitions and the displacement they cause, see our 2015 report: Four facts you might not know about housing demolitions by Israel.

Israel ramps up home demolitions (image) Bedouin home demolition protest.jpg Annie Slemrod Maps and Graphics Migration Conflict JERUSALEM IRIN Middle East and North Africa Palestine Israel



Old problems in Jerusalem's Old City

Mon, 23 Nov 2015 00:00:00 +0000

Faten Ghosheh, a 33-year-old Palestinian mother of five, stands on the roof of her partially demolished home in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex visible behind her. She recalls the moment five years ago when Israeli forces arrived at 5am to tear down the two rooms and bathroom that her husband had built with their life savings of 700,000 shekels ($180,000). To avoid the fine that the Jerusalem municipality would charge for the demolition, the Ghoshehs called on the men in their family to come and tear down the walls. “The children were all crying,” she says. “The older children brought hammers and started demolishing with their father.” Now the family of nine, which includes Ghosheh’s sister-in-law and mother-in-law, makes do with only one bedroom. “In order to protect this, the mosque,” she explains, gesturing towards the glistening dome on the horizon, “we will continue to live here. We consider ourselves … defenders of Al-Aqsa.” Her comment explains at least some of the sentiment behind the wave of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories that began last month and has claimed the lives of 16 Israelis, an American, an Eritrean and at least 90 Palestinians, including attackers. For many Palestinians, Al-Aqsa, which stands on land Israel occupied in 1967, is as much of a political symbol as it is a religious one. Alleged Israeli provocation at Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount – holy to both Jews and Muslims – were a match to the powder keg of home demolitions, taxation without services, classroom shortages, and grinding poverty. As much of the violence has shifted to the West Bank (although there was a stabbing Monday in West Jerusalem) East Jerusalem remains a focal point for protests, and the issues Palestinians face there are on full display inside the walls of the Old City, where the flare-up began. Building permit woes The Ghoshehs applied for but were denied a building permit for the rooms that were eventually torn down. Human rights organisations, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), argue that it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to get permits. Only 14 percent of Palestinian East Jerusalem is zoned for residential use; less than eight percent of Jerusalem’s total landmass for a third of its population. In 2014, Israeli forces destroyed 98 Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem because they were built without permits. Two were in the Old City, displacing seven people, including five children. The Jerusalem municipality insists Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem can obtain building permits. The city points to 2014’s numbers: 108 permits were requested for East Jerusalem; 85 were granted. Asked if these permits were granted to Palestinian residents or the Jewish Israeli settlers who live in East Jerusalem, Ben Avrahami, a spokesman for the municipality, said he did not have that information on hand. The reality is that many Palestinians feel ahead of time that they will not be granted permits. By ACRI’s count, an estimated 39 percent of the houses in East Jerusalem have been built without permission. “It’s not because we want to make their lives more difficult,” Avrahimi told IRIN. “It’s a problem with tabo [land registration]. It’s very complicated to prove ownership.” To that end, he adds, the city has started a special committee to examine those who claim ownership but lack all of the documentation, though not in all of East Jerusalem. Lack of services After the demolition, with the roof of the top floor torn away and most of the walls gone, the Ghoshehs added tin in an attempt to keep out the wind and rain. But it isn’t enough. During heavy winter storms, water leaks into the home. The city has fined them for the erecting the tin. The family also pays arnona, property tax, to the municipality. Paying it is crucial to East Jerusalemites as it helps them prove t[...]



Editor's take: The limits of coexistence

Tue, 20 Oct 2015 23:00:00 +0000

UN chief Ban Ki-moon is in town, huddling with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to prevent the situation from (his words) “spinning out of control.” Violence erupted last month as disputes over the Temple Mount set off a series of attacks by Palestinians claiming the lives of eight Israelis. At least 40 Palestinians have now been killed (including assailants), many during clashes with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is good Ban is here; however, from where I sit in Jerusalem – where last week I heard an attacker dispatched with a quick succession of gunshots – the situation felt “out of control” long before this round of bloodshed. Jewish settlements in the West Bank are growing. Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009, the Jewish population in the West Bank has increased by at least 23 percent, to more than 350,000. This year alone, 396 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in the Occupied West Bank and 60 in East Jerusalem, displacing 544 people. That’s not to mention the abject poverty in Gaza, where rebuilding from last summer’s war has barely begun and unemployment has only inched downwards from 47 to 42 percent. If it appeared that some sense of normalcy had returned since the Gaza conflict, that impression was false. Nothing here is normal. We’re just in the spotlight again. In Palestinian East Jerusalem, new checkpoints remind residents that if one among them has wronged, they are all considered suspects. Israelis are scared – the talk in West Jerusalem is where to buy tear gas, how to stay alert, perhaps get a gun. Ban’s surprise visit comes after a particularly grim example of what anger and fear has wrought here. Haftom Zarhum, a 29-year-old asylum seeker from Eritrea, was shot and beaten to death earlier this week because he was twice unlucky. First, he had the misfortune of being in a southern Israeli bus station when an attacker opened fire, killing one. Second, he had dark skin – causing bystanders to presume ties to the Bedouin assailant. Life in Israel for asylum seekers is already dire, but this may be rock bottom.  So what’s the answer? Making the rounds on social media is a hummus restaurant in northern Israel that’s offering half off to Israeli Jews and Arabs who sit together. It’s a pleasant thought, as even though 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are Arabs, social interaction is limited. But most Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza will never be allowed into Israel, as permission is hard to come by. In fact, the only sustained interaction many Palestinians have with Israelis is with soldiers at checkpoints, or in war. For most Israelis, it’s the same. They know Palestinians through a security lens. For those who do have access to a shared hummus table, each side could be forgiven for not wanting to take up that discount offer at this present moment in time. Then there are the groups of Israelis handing out cake to passersby with signs that say “peace of cake” in English, Arabic and Hebrew. They began by handing their tasty morsels to Palestinian construction workers, who do most of the building inside Israel and the settlements. These initiatives have been met with smiles. Any attempts at nonviolent engagement, at bridging the divide, are valiant. Other joint Israeli-Palestinian groups, like Combatants for Peace and The Parents Circle Families Forum, work together year round. There’s a smattering of bilingual schools. Internationally, outside these fraught borders, Israelis and Palestinians have long found they can get along and advocate for peace. But at a West Jerusalem protest for coexistence over the weekend, both Israelis and Palestinians spoke in Hebrew. Most Palestinians who wanted to attend couldn’t. They were stuck in long lines waiting for clearance to leave their neighbourhoods. The event hinted at[...]



Photo feature: first responders in crisis

Wed, 14 Oct 2015 23:00:00 +0000

As Israel attempts to quell two weeks of violence by ramping up security in East Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli first responders are determined to carry on providing care for the wounded – even if it means placing themselves in danger.

New checkpoints and concrete blocks at the entrances to neighbourhoods in Palestinian East Jerusalem are one major concern for the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

“It’s not going to be easy [to treat patients in those neighbourhoods], and we don’t know what will happen," PRCS spokeswoman Erab Fuqaha told IRIN from Ramallah.

See full photo feature

102109 (image) Palestinian Red Crescent Society volunteer at West Bank clashes News Conflict First responders in crisis IRIN JERUSALEM Israel



In Israel, Refugees Welcome gains small foothold

Thu, 03 Sep 2015 23:00:00 +0000

The Facebook request was simple: “Man needs a home.” The actual demand was perhaps less so. Late in August, Israeli activists began asking fellow citizens to take strangers – asylum seekers or refugees just freed from detention – into their homes. Dan Levi, a university student in Jerusalem who turns 27 in a few days time, was one of those to respond to the call. When he heard that hundreds of men, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, were in urgent need of somewhere – anywhere – to sleep, he offered up what he had in his flatshare: a couch, a key, and a neatly folded set of linens. "I haven't been in their situation myself but I feel a lot of empathy [for the refugees]... I felt I had to do something," Levi told IRIN. After years of legal wrangling, Israel’s high court decided last month that 20 months – the maximum amount of time the state had been holding male refugees and asylum seekers in a desert lockup – was too long. So, on the last few days before a court deadline to let them go, nearly 1,200 were released from the Holot detention centre. But there was a catch. They were banned from living or working in Tel Aviv or Eilat, the cities where the majority of Israel's approximately 45,000 refugees live. Unable to return to family, friends or community, many were left stranded. Moran Mekamel, the head of a university group called Ben Gurion [University] Students for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, posted the "Man needs a home" call on Facebook, asking Israelis outside the forbidden cities to play host. The 30-year-old volunteer was pleasantly surprised at the response. After an hour or so, 30 people had offered spots to some 70 people. “In a few hours, we had a long list of people from very different places all over Israel [offering to help],” she said. “There was an observant Jewish community in Jerusalem, an eco-village [elsewhere].” Within days, some hotels even were offering up free lodging. Bucking the trend The refugee community itself was quick to act and took in most of those left homeless, but ordinary Israelis have filled in the gaps. For example, on that first night last week, three men stayed with Mekamel in Be’er Sheva, the southern city where she lives. The overwhelming majority of Israel's refugees and asylum seekers are from Sudan and Eritrea. Fleeing political persecution and war, most came to the country overland via Egypt. Photo: www.flickr.com/sashakimel An African migrant at an anti-racism protest in Tel Aviv (File photo)   Many of them end up in Holot, a detention facility located in the southern Negev desert that is the physical embodiment of Israel's "Anti-Infiltration Law." Asylum seekers may leave during the day – although there isn't much more than sand to visit – but they are forbidden from working. They receive a small weekly stipend. Although long-term inmates have been freed, others have been summoned to Holot. The legal battle over the law is ongoing. Refugees and asylum seekers can leave the country under a "voluntary deportation" scheme, but there are serious concerns for the safety of those who have done so. This spring, three men who left by choice were reportedly killed in Libya by so-called Islamic State. The government has also been accused of downplaying the threat posed to Eritreans if they return home. Israel’s Interior Minister Silvan Shalom has said that Eritrea only drafts citizens into the military for 18 months, but according to the UN and various human rights groups, service can include forced labour and last decades, causing many to flee the repressive one-party state. In April, Israel began issuing deportation orders that would send people to third countries, such as Rwanda and Uganda, where many earlier deportees have complained of poor conditions and few opportunities. If they refuse, migrants can be sent to a m[...]



'We can't have another year like this'

Thu, 20 Aug 2015 23:00:00 +0000

Schools open on time. It hardly sounds like news, but for half a million Palestinian refugee children it certainly is. On Wednesday, the UN body that looks after Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, announced it had overcome a $101 million deficit and the school year wouldn’t have to be delayed after all. After a desperate funding drive, Gulf Arab countries and the United States filled the gap, but with more refugees, growing needs and little new donor money, the underlying problems remain. It is clear the agency must make radical changes to avoid being in the same situation next year. IRIN sat down with UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl to find out how the agency overcame what he said was its “most serious financial crisis ever” and what he plans to do to keep it out of trouble for good. In a wide-ranging interview, he addresses new school class sizes, the organisation's financial situation and protests against his leadership.   On Wednesday, you announced that UNWRA schools would start on time. Do you now have enough money to guarantee they will be open for the entire academic year? I think we’re good for this year because we have roughly $80 million out of the $101 that we needed. So we have an outstanding contribution by the European Union… We may need one or two other donors, but I think essentially we’re there. You have raised the class numbers you use for planning in UNRWA schools to 50 children. How will this affect how many teachers you employ? We don't know yet because the class formation exercise hasn't been completed. It’s still being finalised. They’re going to complete it now for the West Bank and Gaza, now that they know the school year will open. There are still debates around that, among teachers, unions and others, but it has to be understood first of all the ceiling of 50 existed already a few years ago, so it is a ceiling that has been used in the past. The average will probably be somewhere around 41 or 42. That is compared to an average of previous years around 38, 37. It’s obviously an increase in the number of children per classroom, so in principle you should have fewer teachers in some places, but for the moment we don't have the full picture on that.  This does seem to be an ongoing problem with UNRWA – funding comes in at the last minute and every few years there is a financial crisis. We know needs are increasing and funding is short, so what kind of long-term changes are you considering in how the agency works to avoid this? There are very few agencies in the humanitarian system that don’t have deficits or funding shortfalls against needs, but the thing about this year is that never before had it put our immediate core activities – and particularly our flagship education program – at risk. That’s unprecedented. So I need everybody to understand that this is not just another financial deficit year, it’s a year where we came much closer than we ever should have to having the school year delayed – not because of war like last year in Gaza – but a funding shortfall. That should never have happened. We should never again be in a situation where the school year is at risk. That will require, again, a certain number of internal steps and outreach to donors and there will be a series of meetings taking place that we will try to organise with the League of Arab States, certainly also at the United Nations General Assembly and High Level Segment Week we will try to have ministerial events so we can try to have a proper discussion with the donor countries and institutions that have been most engaged with us to say ‘this [cost-cutting measure] is our contribution but now we really count on you to be able to establish a more predictable form of funding for UNRWA’s core services,’ because we cannot allow the insta[...]