Gaza Situation Report 31

08 August 2014
Gaza Situation Report 31

8 August 2014 | Issue No. 31

UPDATE 16.30hrs

Palestinians flee homes as truce ends. Over 220,000 IDPs in 89 UNRWA shelters (up by almost 50,000 on 7 August 2014, 08.00hrs.

HIGHLIGHTS 

  • The temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip expired this morning 08:00 hrs, as no deal was reached in the Egypt mediated talks.
  • In the early evening hours of 7 August, Palestinians started fleeing their homes to find shelter in UNRWA schools in the North, Gaza City and Khan Younis. With no glimmer of hope in sight, Palestinians feared the talks would fail and shelling to resume. Gazans are terrified and fear the worst is still to come. UNRWA will continue providing refuge and humanitarian aid to all Palestinians impacted by the hostilities. Due to the massive influx into the shelters overnight and early this morning, there are no updated IDP figures available. Registration will continue throughout the day.
  • With no end in sight to the hostilities, UNRWA is continuing to work to find solutions to address pressing hygiene and health issues in the shelters. Today, in cooperation with UNICEF, UNRWA is planning to launch a hygiene and water campaign which is designed to make IDPs aware of, and take responsibility for, helping to promote clean shelters to prevent a large scale outbreak of diseases, such as water-borne infections and scabies. As a complement to the hygiene and water campaign, UNRWA also strives to improve health care and surveillance in the shelters. Health teams in the shelters will report on nine health issues of concern (diarrhea for example) on a daily basis to assist in early detection of problems and prevent large scale outbreaks. These initiatives are rolled out amongst incredible challenges, including insufficient access to non-potable water, a potential resumption of violence and the high number of IDPs in UNRWA shelters.
  • This war has shown that nobody and nothing is safe in Gaza. As reported earlier on, five UNRWA emergency shelters were subject to direct kinetic attacks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). According to information provided by the Protection Cluster, 20 Palestinians were killed in the attack on the Jabalia Elementary Girls School A & B on 30 July 2014. The attack on Beit Hanoun Elementary Co-ed School A & D on 24 July caused 11 fatalities. The missile strike next to an UNRWA shelter in Rafah killed 10 Palestinians on 3 August. The coordinates and joint coordination map references were communicated to the IDF on multiple occasions. 
  • Rescue and medical teams continued recovering bodies. The cumulative death toll among Palestinians stands at 1,922, with 32 new fatalities reported. Of the new reported fatalities, 11 are children and 8 are women.
  • In UN missions around the globe, UN flags were flying at half-mast on Thursday in memory of the eleven UNRWA colleagues who were killed during the one-month military escalation. A moment of silence was observed by UN staff members in memory of their Palestinian colleagues.

GENERAL 

Past 24 hours: Delegations from Palestine and Israel continued the Cairo talks to reach an extension of the temporary ceasefire in view of a more permanent solution. The temporary ceasefire expired this morning 08:00 hrs, with no agreement reached. Since Wednesday 6 August, it was reported that the Israeli side was ready to extend the temporary ceasefire beyond 8 August 08:00hrs. The Palestinian delegation insisted that the eight year long blockade on Gaza must be lifted and that an agreement needs to be reached over the border crossings, the airport and the seaport. The Israeli side requested that any such agreement, as well as the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, would be discussed at a later stage.

In the afternoon of 7 August, a Hamas -staged demonstration was held in Gaza City in support of the Palestinian envoys. Hamas' military wing, the Qassam Brigades, announced they remained on high alert and were ready to resume fighting. It was reported that in the early morning hours, before the temporary ceasefire expired, militants fired two mortars from the Southern Gaza Strip into Israel. However, the Gaza police and Hamas denied the incident.

In a statement on 7 August, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the oPt, James Rawley, said a continued halt in violence was essential for a humanitarian response in the Gaza Strip. With due regard to security concerns, an agreement to lift the restrictions on movement of people and goods that Israel has put in place for the last seven years was critical to address people’s needs in the short and longer-term. “Without the full lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in Gaza will continue to be deprived of any sense of a normal life and the massive reconstruction effort now required will be impossible,” said Mr. Rawley.

UNRWA RESPONSE 

  • With the temporary ceasefire holding, UNMAS on 7 August continued clearing UNRWA installations, including two distribution centers in Beit Hanoun and Deir El Balah, the Gaza City and Beit Hanoun Health Centers, the Relief and Social Services Office in Beit Hanoun, and four schools. Subsequent to UNMAS clearance, provided there is an end to hostilities, UNRWA engineers will assess damage, and begin to effect repairs to the buildings.
  • Today, UNRWA will launch a hygiene and water campaign in all operating shelters. The campaign is designed to ensure that IDPs are aware of and take responsibility for helping to promote clean shelters and prevent any major health issues, such as for example water-borne diseases and scabies. In cooperation with UNICEF, UNRWA will distribute posters for all rooms, toilets and water points to initiate a behavior change campaign, to be followed closely by the training of thirty volunteer medical students on best practice regarding sanitation and water use in emergencies. The volunteers will train existing water and environment focal points at shelters and UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme workers. This team will then select and train hygiene and water committees, including on local monitoring of tap water use. The committees will comprise IDPs at each shelter and consist of two women, two men and four youth – two girls and two boys. The IDP committees will be tasked with advocating on these issues with all IDPs.
  • 14 of 21 health centers were operating. 86 per cent of the staff reported to work, and 21,909 patients were served, representing a 12 per cent increase on 6 August. As a complement to the hygiene and water campaign, UNRWA also strives to improve surveillance in the shelter. Health teams in the shelters will report on nine health issues of concern (diarrhea for example) on a daily basis. With the shelters cramped, and widespread fear and anxiety amongst Gazans, UNRWA is also concerned that an outbreak of any disease might cause major panic amongst shelter residents. UNRWA also continues to work with UN partners and local NGOs, including for example the Sharek Youth Forum, to provide psychological and psychosocial support to adults and children.
  • Over the reporting period, UNRWA delivered 35 truckloads of NFIs as well as 95 truckloads of food to shelters. Food to shelters is provided in cooperation with WFP.
  • UNRWA’s food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 4,150 families through UNRWA distribution centers.
  • UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued to distribute both potable and non-potable water to 90 UNRWA emergency shelters across the Gaza Strip and 8 government shelters in the North. Over the reporting period, 517 cubic meters of potable water were trucked to UNRWA shelters, bringing the potable water supply to about 2.7 liters per person per day, excluding bottled water supplied through partners to shelters where no sufficient water supply was provided through trucks. The Middle Area and Rafah potable water supply reached 3 liters per person per day which is the minimum requirement. 615 cubic meters of non-potable water was trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the UNRWA shelters. Some shelters benefit from UNRWA wells and municipal water sources. Over the reporting period, UNRWA’s 11 water wells in Jabalia, Beach, Khan Younis and Rafah Camps supplied a total of 11,273 cubic meters, including to UNRWA shelters.
  • Of UNRWA’s Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Department, 83 per cent of the permanent sanitation staff reported to work. Together with 371 Palestinians employed under the Job Creation Programme (JCP), they removed a total of 366 tonnes from all Gaza camps. UNRWA maintenance staff continue to undertake critical repair work in UNRWA installations, including plumbing and electrical works in shelters.
  • UNRWA also continued to provide its logistics capacity to supply fuel to municipalities, water, sanitation and health facilities through the WASH and Health clusters (led by UNICEF and WHO). 24,000 liters were delivered to UNICEF for the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) and 26,000 liters were delivered to WHO to support the Gaza health sector.

SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS

It was reported that before the temporary ceasefire ended on 8 August 2014 at 08:00hrs, militants fired two mortars from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The police and Hamas denied the incident. 

UNRWA INSTALLATIONS

UNRWA estimates that 97 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014. Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. 

FUNDING NEEDS

More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here

CROSSINGS

  • The Rafah crossing was open for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians.
  • Erez was open for humanitarian cases and international staff.
  • Kerem Shalom crossing was open.

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