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Monday, June 12, 2017

The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, gave a statement last week about the 50th anniversary of an unsuccessful war meant to murder millions of Jews. Here's how he framed it, though:

This week marks 50 years since the start of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. For humanitarians this is the most long-standing protection crisis in the UN’s history.
I had never noticed the term "protection crisis" before, and I looked in vain to find an official UN definition.

The only place I found any loose definition of the term was in a 2006 paper by the Humanitarian Policy Group entitled "The ‘protection crisis’: A review of field-based strategies for humanitarian
protection in Darfur":
The two main determinants of civilian (in)security in any violent conflict are the actions and motives of the parties to the conflict, and the steps that civilians take to protect themselves from the direct and indirect consequences of this (Darcy and Srinivasan, forthcoming). If the Sudanese government and the other warring parties were adhering to their obligations under international law, or if Darfuri civilians were able to find viable ways of remaining secure in their home environments or in a place of refuge, the need for third party intervention to protect civilians might not arise. Unfortunately, neither of those conditions applies in Darfur. 
While the level of insecurity faced by civilians in Darfur is acute, the nature and scale of the violence are not without precedent, either within or outside Sudan. However, the way in which this situation has been characterised by the humanitarian community is different: Darfur is the first emergency to be labelled a ‘protection crisis’. 
So the term "protection crisis" simply did not exist before 2006. Even this paper notes that there had been similar situations beforehand but Darfur was the first place that the international community mobilized specifically to protect a vulnerable community rather than in response to acute humanitarian needs from war or natural disaster.

The UN uses the term "protection crisis" now to apply to the Central African Republic (2011), famine in Somalia (2011),  violence and persecution in Central America (2016),  widespread wartime famine in Yemen (2017), and the Syrian crisis (2016) which is called "the world's largest protection crisis."

Yet the UN now says that the Palestinians suffer from a "the most long-standing protection crisis in the UN's history"  - where no one is starving, no one is fleeing persecution (except for thousands fleeing from Hamas which the UN doesn't care about), and no civilians are being targeted. Where some 98% of Palestinians live under self-rule.

Not only has the UN elevated the Palestinian issue into a false crisis, but it has now retroactively declared that this crisis started in 1967, with "occupation." So Darfur is no longer the first protection crisis, but "Israeli occupation" is.

Yet the Palestinian Arabs who lived in much worse conditions in the territories before 1967 are not considered to have been in "crisis" by this UN definition. Similarly, the Palestinians who live in worse conditions in Syria and Lebanon and even in some Jordanian camps are not considered to be part of this "protection crisis." No, the only people who need "protection" are the ones for which Israel can be blamed. Apparently, taking a half hour to go through a checkpoint to get to a job in Israel is a "crisis."

Even the situation in Gaza, bad as it is under Hamas rule and with official Palestinian Authority policy to stop medicines and power to the sector, is far better than Syria and Somalia and Yemen and the CAR.

In 2009, as Operation Cast Lead was being waged, the UN said that "A humanitarian and protection crisis [is] unfolding," meaning that at the time the UN did not consider Gaza to be a "protection crisis" before the war. Now, Robert Piper is saying it was under a "protection crisis" for decades beforehand. Just no one noticed.

The use of this term "protection crisis" is the context of Israel is political, not factual. And to retroactively say that there was a crisis that started in 1967, when the lives of the people under Israeli control improved by every important health and human services metric compared to how they were beforehand  - and having the same UN ignore the far worse situation of Palestinians under Arab rule - just proves yet again that the UN keep on finding new ways to target only Israel, and doesn't really give a damn about Palestinians.

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