31 July 2014 | Issue No. 23
- UNRWA mourns the death of its eighth staff member. Whilst displaced from his home, he worked in the emergency shelter team in the Jabalia school which was shelled in the morning of 30 July. He died of his injuries. It is reported that 15 people including 4 children died in the attack on the school which was supposed to provide a safe haven for about 3,300 individuals. The Agency commends the outstanding dedication of its staff who continue to report to work under the most difficult personal circumstances and in an increasing deteriorating security environment. Like all Gazans, UNRWA staff have lost loved ones, had their homes destroyed or shelter those who have nowhere else to go. Most of the time, staff have no water or electricity at home and come to work after sleepless nights because of the incessant shelling, and with uncertainty whether they will see their home and family again. UNRWA continues to call upon the Government of Israel to adhere to the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and to International Humanitarian Law (IHL), designed to regulate conduct of hostilities. Even when confronted with threats to the safety and security of its civilians, Israel remains bound by IHL provisions.
- UNRWA is deeply grateful for all contributions and pledges from donor governments, charities, NGOs, private companies and individuals worth a total of US$82.9 million. This amount includes a substantial portion earmarked for reconstruction costs outside of the Gaza Flash Appeal. The Agency now requires a total of US$ 187.6 million in order to provide emergency assistance for a revised scenario of up to 250,000 people displaced for a period of up to eight weeks. A portion of this funding will also be needed to start early recovery activities including shelter and installation repair upon a cessation of hostilities. The increase in funding required for these activities (US$ 72.6 million on the previous total) is based on the rising number of those internally displaced and an extension of the period of assistance provided. Throughout this period, and until a cessation in hostilities is reached, UNRWA will continue to provide food, water, non-food items (NFIs) and psycho-social support at designated emergency shelters. The Agency will also continue to provide assistance to those seeking refuge outside of UNRWA operated shelters through the distribution of NFIs, provision of conditional cash assistance, and through ensuring that primary health centres and essential water utilities remain operational.
- There are 86 UNRWA emergency shelters, housing 225,178 IDPs, an increase of 10 per cent in 24 hours.
- To date, the total number of Palestinian deaths reported by the UN stands at 1,274. This figure has risen by 144 compared to that reported in the previous 24 hour period. The number of wounded, as reported by the Ministry of Health, has reached 7,700.
Past 24 hours: On 29 July, a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire was unilaterally declared by Israel but was not accepted by Hamas as it did not extend to the entire Gaza Strip but was limited to those parts where forces were not engaged in hostilities. During the humanitarian pause fighting continued, with Israel bombing the market in the Shujaieh neighborhood of Gaza City, causing significant loss of life. Also, the UNRWA compound was impacted by fragmentation of air strikes in the close proximity.
Subsequent to the killing of three soldiers, media reported that a tunnel was built under an UNRWA clinic. These reports were confirmed by the IDF as inaccurate and UNRWA has no facilities in the affected area.
- As of 08:00 this morning, the number of IDPs sheltered in UNRWA schools had again increased by 21,012, bringing the total number to 225,178 in 86 shelters. A new shelter had to be opened in Rafah. UNRWA has started installing showers in the Arabic toilets of its emergency shelters to improve hygiene with supplies from the UNRWA maintenance department and the local market. The Agency plans to install 2 to 4 showers per shelter, which is still completely insufficient given that the average number per shelter is over 2,600 people. Whilst households go without water, it is feared the water supply in UNRWA shelters might become a pull factor, fueling further displacement. The Agency is struggling every day to keep up with the challenging logistics of water provision to an ever increasing displaced population.
- The mobile phone network north of Gaza City is down, making it difficult to remain in close and frequent contact with the UNRWA emergency teams that risks their live whilst on duty to help those in need.
- Over the reporting period, UNRWA delivered 29 truckloads of NFIs (including blankets, diapers, toilet paper and cleaning supplies), mineral water as well as non-potable water (90,000 liters) to UNRWA emergency shelters, as well as 42 truckloads of food (tuna, bread, vegetables, cheese, milk, meat, dates and biscuits). Bakeries throughout Gaza are facing pressure due to rapidly increasing demand as people cannot bake bread in their homes due to lack of electricity. UNRWA and WFP are facing mounting difficulties in their commitment to provide rations of bread to all IDPs in UNRWA’s shelters, just as the general population in Gaza is reportedly having to wait in line for several hours each day to buy this basic staple of the Gazan diet. The humanitarian community is at present working with local authorities to try to alleviate pressure on the bakeries while continuing to provide food assistance to conflict affected populations.
- UNRWA’s food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 1,381 families through 6 out of 12 distribution centres.
- Seven out of 21 Health Centers remained closed, and four were partially operating. 6,164 patients were served. Due to the deteriorating security situation, only 40 per cent of the health staff were able to report to work. Despite low staff attendance, the health department is looking into ways to improve surveillance in shelters in light of a potential outbreak of communicable diseases, including through training on personal hygiene. Lice and scabies treatments are scheduled to arrive today in Gaza, requiring again water for usage. Of further concern are the closed health centers: stored medication, including vaccinations, are becoming unusable as there is no electricity to provide required refrigeration.
- On 30 July, 342 Sanitation Laborers reported to work, removing an estimated 182 tonnes of solid waste. The Agency’s maintenance staff also reported to work to install the water showers in schools that serve as shelters and to undertake urgent repair works, such as fixing water tanks in shelters and plumbing works.
SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS
Reportedly there were 100 rockets and 88 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 135 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 115 navy shells. The IDF – inside Gaza or positioned at the border – fired 1,205 tank shells in to populated areas. Reportedly, 43 houses were bombarded.
Five additional UNRWA installations were reported damaged during this period, all of them schools.
An estimated 106 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June, 2014, many of them on multiple occasions. UNRWA is still to verify this number when the security situation allows.
More information on the second revision of the flash appeal can be found here: here.
- Rafah crossing was open for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians.
- Erez was closed.
- Kerem Shalom crossing was open.
Following the escalation in violence between Gaza and Israel in November 2012 an understanding was reached between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Egypt. 2013 was subsequently the quietest year in a decade, in terms of hostilities between Israel and Gaza. Events in 2014, however, have led to a profound deterioration in the situation.
On 7 July 2014, UNRWA declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip in response to escalating violence between Israel and Hamas. Since then, civilian displacement and fatalities have risen sharply.
The Israeli blockade of Gaza entered its 8th year in June 2014 and continues to have a devastating effect as access to markets and people’s movement to and from the Gaza Strip remain severely restricted. The economy and its capacity to create jobs has been devastated, with the majority of the population becoming dependent on humanitarian aid to meet basic needs. The number of Palestine refugees relying on UNRWA for food aid has increased from fewer than 80,000 in 2000 to over 830,000 today.
Gaza: Facts and Figures
- 1.2 million refugees
- 8 refugee camps
- Over 12,500 staff
- 245 schools for more than 230,000 students
- 21 health centres
- 12 food distribution centres for more than 830,000 refugees
- Living under a tightened land and sea blockade since 2007
- Shattered local economy
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight.