A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Aid agency calls on government to compensate villagers for damage done
Oxfam today called upon the Israeli government to compensate Palestinian villagers after the Israeli army demolished 79 structures in the village of Al Farisiya in the West Bank on Monday, forcing families into further impoverishment after years of harassment. Structures destroyed include homes, stables, storage sheds, water tanks, two tons of animal fodder, fertilizer and wheat.
An initial assessment of the damage inflicted on the area carried out by Oxfam together with other development NGOs working in Al Farisiya established that the destruction has affected 113 Palestinians – identified as some of the poorest in the area, and half of whom are children.
The estimated cost of the overall damage to the village is at least NIS 111,270 ($29,000). This includes damage to water tanks and irrigation pipes provided by Oxfam.
"The hillside looked as if a natural disaster had taken place," said Oxfam's water and sanitation advocacy officer, Cara Flowers, after visiting the site. "Families had begun to gather their belongings into some semblance of order but no one knows when things will return to normal. Pipes for irrigating crops lie destroyed and water tanks desperately needed to store drinking water for people and livestock were badly damaged. With no access to shelter, water or fodder for their goat and sheep herds, an entire community is being forced to leave their land."
The Israeli military posted a sign last year declaring the area a ‘military zone'. Some villagers – several of whom have lived in Al Farisiya for decades – were reportedly served eviction orders in June, but others said they had not received eviction notices prior to the demolition of their property.
"The Israeli authorities are obliged to protect the lives, property and livelihoods of civilians under their occupation. The authorities should now offer alternative accommodation and compensation for damage done, some of it to internationally donated material, but more importantly, to the lives of Al Farisiya's residents," Flowers said.
Oxfam has been working with the Al Farisiya community for the last four years. The destroyed items were supplied in response to the severe summer drought and food scarcity. Permits for more sustainable and permanent water supplies are extremely difficult to obtain from the Israeli authorities. Oxfam and other agencies therefore have to resort to short-term measures, such as providing water tanks in order to avert a serious crisis.
Notes to editors
Cara Flowers on +972 (0)575538529 or Jane Barrett on +31.6.13933517