Written by: Dr. Talal Abu Rukba

The catastrophic circumstances and conditions that Palestinians are going through in light of the ongoing aggression on the Gaza Strip, which is subjected to genocide and a humanitarian catastrophe, have compelled the nineteenth Palestinian government to propose the establishment of a new ministry: the Ministry of Palestinian Relief. This Ministry is intended to play a crucial role in enhancing emergency responses for vulnerable populations during crises and disasters.

Assistance and aid are fundamental in improving the quality of life for these groups, ensuring they uphold the values of human dignity and rights. Emergency humanitarian and relief aid is crucial for societal progress and resilience in the face of disasters, crises, and conflicts. It plays a significant role in enhancing both internal and external community cohesion, fostering solidarity, and reinforcing the values of good citizenship during challenging times. This unity within society helps mitigate the effects and repercussions of disasters and conflicts on affected communities. With the announcement of the new government, questions have emerged regarding the role and responsibilities of the Ministry of Relief, as well as its relationship with other relevant ministries, particularly the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry of Relief should prioritize the strategic and policy aspects of relief operations across Palestine. It should focus on developing sustainable approaches that use relief efforts as a gateway to integrated development in the region. This requires the establishment of a comprehensive vision that includes essential procedures and regulations to organize and oversee relief work. A crucial step is to create a specialized committee comprising representatives from relevant official, civil, and international institutions. This committee would develop a draft law for relief work, providing the necessary legal framework to regulate relief efforts in Palestine. Ultimately, this approach aims to ensure that relief operations effectively contribute to societal advancement, recovery, and resilience.

The next crucial step for the Ministry is to establish full partnerships with Palestinian civil society organizations and international organizations. This includes forming the Supreme National Committee for Relief Work in Palestine. This committee would serve as an umbrella organization, coordinating and integrating efforts to enhance community participation and ensure comprehensive policies and strategies are developed. These actions are essential to achieving the core objectives of relief work, both during and after times of conflict or aggression. The Ministry should also delegate the operational aspects of relief work to partners and agents from other official and civil institutions, rather than becoming a distributor that competes with or monopolizes aid distribution. It should focus on coordinating effectively with the Ministry of Development, UNRWA, and other relevant civil and international institutions to ensure a comprehensive and integrated approach to relief efforts.

The Ministry must prioritize integrating relief efforts into a broader Palestinian development framework, linking relief to development. This requires establishing a robust regulatory framework to prevent corruption and implementing policies that promote transparency, integrity, and accountability in relief operations. To achieve this, the Ministry should develop strategies and plans that view aid as a critical component of post-aggression reconstruction, rather than a temporary fix imposed by circumstances. It is essential to create a development environment with clear and achievable goals, supported by effective tools and procedures to overcome obstacles. This approach demands the Ministry adhere to guidelines linked to a legal framework that regulates its work, ensuring it can effectively address the urgent need for integrated development in Palestine. Investigating the relief work environment requires analyzing the existing policies and procedural tools, alongside a continuous review of laws, regulations, bylaws, and instructions governing aid and relief operations. This process is crucial for identifying and addressing any shortcomings or gaps that could impede the achievement of relief work's true objectives.

The Ministry should also adhere to policies that promote transparency and information sharing with official and civil society organizations. This approach ensures that aid is delivered to beneficiaries in a complementary manner, avoiding duplication, particularly during emergencies. It is essential to establish and implement a code of conduct for both male and female workers involved in humanitarian aid provision, while maintaining a clear policy to prevent conflicts of interest. Regularly reviewing reports issued by external regulatory bodies and those prepared by local community committees is also crucial. Furthermore, enhancing coordination among various entities involved in relief work is imperative.

These tasks and aspirations represent our hopes for relief work to serve as a catalyst for development, turning the current Palestinian challenges into opportunities for advancement. This approach aims to strengthen community solidarity and cohesion while establishing an integrated development process. It is essential for the Ministry to avoid falling into a reactive mode and instead proactively shape the future. We look forward to witnessing these goals come to fruition.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's views and not necessarily the Association's or donor's opinion.