13 August 2014 | Issue No. 36
- Unless renewed, the 72 hours ceasefire will expire today 13 August at midnight local time. The resumption of hostilities is a possibility as there is currently no sign of a breakthrough in the Egypt mediated talks between Palestine and Israel.
- Even if a permanent ceasefire was reached, UNRWA is planning to keep a certain number of schools open to shelter those who have nowhere else to go. The Agency will remain responsible for the daily humanitarian needs of the long term displaced.
- With regards to the new school year, coordination with the Ministry of Education is ongoing. UNRWA is further working towards a strategy to integrate psychological and psychosocial needs in the curriculum. If a permanent ceasefire was reached, it is expected it will take the Agency between two to three weeks until schools can open their doors to some 235,000 children.
- Despite the temporary ceasefire holding, only few families left the UNRWA shelters. As of yesterday 12 August 16:30, 207,221 IDPs were sheltered in 87 UNRWA schools. The IDP numbers remain fluid. Some families return if they find their house uninhabitable or feel otherwise unsafe. Almost half of the displaced in UNRWA shelters are children below the age of 18.
- UNRWA and WFP continued the exceptional food distribution to all families not currently receiving regular food aid from the two agencies. Over the past two days, almost 20,000 of the eligible 143,000 families received a 30kg ration of flour and a 10kg ration of rice from UNRWA’s. A total of 10,997 rations were distributed yesterday, which corresponds to UNRWA staff distributing some 36 rations per minute in all 12 distribution centers. There were large crowds in front of all distribution centers. As of today, UNRWA will better inform the waiting families of the ongoing distribution through loudspeakers and posters.
- Under the Agency’s Job Creation Programme, UNRWA is completing the recruitment process for the health teams to be deployed to the shelters. As of tomorrow, health teams in each shelter, including a medical doctor, a nurse, and a health educator, will be monitoring health issues of concern. To ease the burden on UNRWA health staff, the health teams will also improve access of the displaced to medication for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma. The work of the health teams is complemented by the hygiene and water campaign. 27 dedicated young graduates were hired under the Job Creation Programme and trained to work with the displaced to promote a healthy environment in the overcrowded schools. Six of the 27 staffers will serve as area focal points. All deployed to shelters yesterday to conduct orientation sessions with UNRWA staff.
Since the last update, the Protection Cluster recorded 3 additional fatalities, 2 of which were recovered from Khuza’a. According to UN information, the cumulative death toll among Palestinians stands at 1965. 1417 are believed to be civilians, including 459 children and 238 women.
Past 24 hours: The temporary ceasefire in Gaza is holding but unless the underlying causes of the conflict are addressed, another round of violence and vengeance is almost guaranteed, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on 12 August. Speaking to journalists at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, he pointed to a lack of political will as the reason that a durable and sustained ceasefire has not yet been reached. “They have not been listening to the voices of the international community and concerns raised by myself as the Secretary-General and many world leaders in the region and around the world,” he said. “In the name of protecting their own people, they have been letting their people be killed by others. Is that what they have to do?” “This is almost the last chance for them. They have a very limited time,” Mr. Ban noted.
With its villas and palm fringed alleys, the tiny town of Khuza’a used to be one of the very few pleasant green locations in Gaza. Close to the fence with Israel, it was shelled and bombed to ruins over the course of the past five weeks.
Hussam Salem Al-Najjar is one of Khuza’a’s residents. He is married with six children, the eldest being twelve. Standing with his family in the midst of what is left of his home, he describes the days of shelling in Khuza’a. “For hours the bombing would not cease. My family and I gathered with 120 other members of our clan in the house next to us. We were terrified. The children were crying and trembling in fear. None of us believed we will survive”, he says.
Hussam feared the house would collapse and bury all. Wearing only the clothes on their backs, and carrying makeshift white flags, the family ran through tiny alleys covered with rubble towards the home of Hussam’s father close to Khuza’a, which at the time already sheltered some 160 displaced. Hussam says that some of his relatives were killed on the way to their next refuge, but he and his family were lucky enough to survive. Three days later, when hostilities escalated in the neighborhood, all escaped again in different directions, seeking refuge with families and in UNRWA schools.
After being trapped for four days in a home, Rawhia and Mona, also from the Al-Najjar family, finally arrived in an UNRWA shelter. The UNRWA schools, they say, are the only safe places in Gaza. With the fence surrounding Gaza effectively sealed, civilians do not have the option to flee as is usually possible in other humanitarian crises. Also not the residents from Khuza’a, who lived just a couple of hundreds of meters away from Israel.
- UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, trucked 673.5 cubic meters of potable water to the shelters. This brings the potable water supply to approximately 3 liters per person per day, which is in line with international standards. This amount excludes bottled water delivered to the shelters in areas where the capacity of water suppliers is insufficient. 840 cubic meters of non-potable water were trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the shelters. Some shelters also continue to benefit from UNRWA wells and municipal water sources.
- UNRWA delivered 10 truckloads of non food items (hygiene kits and diapers) as well as 57 truckloads of food to shelters in cooperation with WFP. The delivery of bread, which is transferred through Kerem Shalom from Hebron via Israel, is a particular challenge as it requires two back-to-back loadings when leaving the West Bank and when entering Gaza. The back-to-back system applies to all West Bank exports to or through Israel, as Palestinian vehicles are not allowed to cross the checkpoints, and to goods allowed to enter Kerem Shalom via Israel. Even though the strait line distance between Gaza City and Hebron is only 60km, bread is unlikely to cross in a day.
- UNRWA’s regular food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 3,189 families through all 12 UNRWA distribution centers.
- Under the UNRWA/WFP exceptional food distribution to 143,000 families not currently receiving regular food aid from the two agencies, 10,997 rations were distributed through 12 UNRWA distribution centers.
- 14 of 21 health centers were operating. With the ceasefire holding, 91 per cent of the staff reported to work, and 20,305 patients were served including psychosocial counseling.
- Since the beginning of the crisis, UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Programme has served over 104,600 parents and engaged over 115,000 children in recreational activities. 92 counselors reported to work in all UNRWA shelters. Further, UNRWA partner organizations, including the Sharek Youth Forum, provided support to over 17,600 adults and over 90,400 children.
- Of UNRWA’s Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Department, 280 staff, representing 83 per cent of the permanent sanitation staff, reported to work. Together with 400 Palestinians employed under the Job Creation Programme (JCP), they removed a total of 366 tonnes of waste from all Gaza camps. UNRWA maintenance staff continue to undertake critical repair work in UNRWA installations.
- 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). 46,300 liters were delivered to UNICEF for the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), and 1,000 liters were provided to WHO.
SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS
Nothing to report.
Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 103 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.
More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here.