How do you live a life of dignity in an area that has been under military occupation for decades?
Every single day, people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) see their most basic rights violated and their livelihoods threatened. All over the territory, an intricate system of check points and road blocks severely limits people’s mobility and their possibility to pursue job or study opportunities. Palestinians have only very restricted access to the already stretched water and land resources, and Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are demolished to make room for Israeli settlements. With no resolution to the conflict in sight, for many families the situation is one of deep disillusionment, with little hope for change. This is especially frustrating for young people wishing to shape their own lives and futures.
The crippling internal political division, as well as a general lack of transparency in the political decision-making processes have left most Palestinians with little faith in their own authorities’ capabilities in responding to the people’s needs. A recent survey (conducted by Sharek Youth Forum in 2011) found that 52% of Palestinian youth do not trust any political party; 70% reported that they are politically inactive. Women in particular face additional challenges in being heard. Cultural restraints and traditional gender roles often prevent them from taking an active role in their community.
This lack of representation has left most Palestinians, especially young people, with few means to claim their rights and influence the decision-making processes that so deeply affect their lives and put their livelihoods at risk.
ActionAid is committed to human rights and justice and we welcome ActionAid Occupied Palestinian Territory as our newest country program.
- Archie Law, Executive Director of ActionAid Australia
What does ActionAid OPT do?
Since 2007, ActionAid Australia and ActionAid Denmark have been working to support the Palestinian population – especially marginalised women and youth in the Hebron area – in upholding their right to a life in dignity. Building on the years of experience in working with and learning from the local communities, ActionAid has now launched its newest country programme: ActionAid OPT.
The OPT is host to a wide range of development NGOs, aid agencies and charities. Communities have come to depend on these agencies to deliver the most basic services, like water or electricity. ActionAid OPT recognises that these very basic needs must be satisfied in order for people to have the strength to mobilise and campaign for their rights. But our work doesn’t stop here!
For the people of OPT to ever see a better future, breaking the cycle of aid dependency is essential. More than treating the symptoms of marginalisation and poverty, ActionAid’s goal is therefore always to empower people to become active drivers in the change, by building up a civil society strong enough to demand their rights and hold the authorities accountable. To do this, we work closely with community based organisations, to enhance their transparency, accountability and responsiveness to their people’s rights. Through livelihood projects for women, we are working to promote women’s rights and their standing in Palestinian society as every bit as equal as their male peers. Through lobbying and advocacy campaigns, we will also be working hand in hand with the Palestinian communities to support them in claiming their rights to self-determination.
This is ActionAid OPT’s vision of sustainable development, and how we support our communities to achieve a deep-rooted, long-term change for the better.