25 August 2014 | Issue No. 48
The entire population of the Gaza Strip is currently depending on food aid. Under the UNRWA and WFP exceptional food aid distribution, which commenced on 11 August, 69 per cent of all eligible 143,000 families (approximately 730,000 individuals) received their rations so far. Each parcel of a standard ration of flour (30kg) and rice (10kg) equals about 44 per cent of the caloric requirements of an average family for one month. UNRWA also continues its regular food distribution, consisting of flour, rice, sugar, sunflower oil, milk powder and canned meat, to a total of 830,000 beneficiaries six days a week through its distribution centers, as well as the provision of food aid to shelters in cooperation with WFP. WFP posters advising on milk rations and the importance of breastfeeding are displayed in the main shelter areas. Flyers are given to every family. UNRWA is also in discussion with partners to supplement the distributed rations with hot meals consisting of lentils and rice.
Past 24 hours: One UNRWA school in Deir el Balah, which serves as a shelter, was previously damaged during the war and sustained additional damages last night. Two out of twelve distribution centers were closed due to the military escalation which continues to impede humanitarian operations.
It is early on Sunday morning and the sound of school bells can be heard. Playgrounds are full. Students are in lines singing the Palestinian national anthem. Teachers are supervising activities. Speeches are being delivered. This however, is not a typical school assembly, falling on day 48 of a war that has seen unprecedented loss of life and devastation across the Gaza Strip.
Similar ceremonies were coordinated on 24 August in every UNRWA school functioning as a shelter, to mark what should have been the first day of school for children in Gaza. As the war continues and the current situation poses many challenges, UNRWA hopes that the symbolic ceremony offers the people of Gaza hope.
Bisan will commence the 8th grade this year. She has been taking refuge with her family in Beach Elementary Co-ed School C for the past 37 days and participated in the ceremony held there. “We will smile despite the destruction, displacement and homelessness we are passing through,” said Bisan. “The world’s students are now preparing their school bags following a happy summer vacation, celebrating the new school year and meeting their friends, but we Gaza children are not.”
The reality of the situation for children in Gaza compared to that of those in other countries also does not go unnoticed by Bisan and her classmates. “I hope that we can lead a normal life similar to other children in the world and can go to our schools in safety and security; we did not do anything wrong and on this day we should have been sitting at school desks.”
In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNRWA is committed to ensuring that it does everything possible to help all children in Gaza have access to an education. Alternative teaching and curriculum also provide for the opportunity to help children learn about maintaining their health and personal safety, including how to avoid unexploded ordnances. These interventions are also critical to families feeling safer when it comes time to rebuilding their lives.
The Agency has introduced a three phase emergency education plan, coordinated with UNRWA headquarters, the Ministry of Education and in close collaboration with other partners. The plan commences this week and includes psychosocial interventions, the use of new technology, UNRWA’s satellite TV education programs and self-learning material for all children.
UNRWA’s regular food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 4,049 families through UNRWA distribution centers.
UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued increasing daily water distributions to the shelters. 1,208 cubic metres of potable water were trucked. Even with the increasing IDP numbers, UNRWA was able to reach on average 3.7 litres per person a day, excluding the 960 litres of bottled water distributed in Rafah. Ongoing hostilities and further displacement poses challenges in meeting minimum water needs particularly in the North, Gaza and Khan Younis. In addition to drinking water, 1,104 cubic metres of non-potable water were trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the shelters as supply through the water network or wells is insufficient.
UNRWA’s hygiene and water campaign is ongoing in the UNRWA designated emergency shelters, with 137 IDP committees (including at minimum 2 women, 2 men and 4 youth of which two girls and two boys) established with overall 1,314 members. Hygiene focal points and facilitators have organized 757 awareness sessions for over 46,000 IDPs focusing on cleanliness, usage of cleaning materials, best practices in water use, how to keep food from being contaminated and how to treat lice and scabies. 856 persons have been referred to medical focal points deployed in the shelters. So far, almost 36,000 IDPs have taken part in cleaning campaigns. The difficult security situation is creating access issues and posing constraints of movement of staff working on the campaign. In Rafah and the North, some schools have experienced internal conflicts among IDPs and hence the hygiene campaign is on hold. Additional facilitators will be recruited and continuous work is taking place to ensure good standards are kept or improved as necessary and that IDPs take ownership of cleanliness in their overcrowded shelters. The deteriorating security situation, however, largely prevents movement of staff working on the campaign.
Under its Community Mental Health Program (CMHP), 95 UNRWA counselors reported to the shelters on 24 August. So far the CMHP has provided 18,128 sessions encompassing mental health awareness, psychosocial support covering 151,266 parents and recreational and animation activities to 176,667 children. CMHP also coordinated and supervised the implementation of 4,465 sessions by other partners covering 22,828 adult IDPs and 121,822 children.
Of UNRWA’s Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Department, 277 staff, representing 82 per cent of the permanent sanitation staff, reported to work. Together with 378 Palestinians employed under the Job Creation Programme (JCP), they removed a total of 345 tonnes of waste from all Gaza camps. The 11 water wells in Jabalia Camp (6), Beach Camp (3), Khan Younis Camp (1) and Rafah (1) supplied a total of 12,275 cubic meters of water. UNRWA maintenance staff continue to undertake critical repair work in UNRWA installations.
14 of 21 health centers were operating. 83 per cent of the staff reported to work, and 16,449 patients were served on 24 August. The number of patients with pediculosis (lice) and scabies coming to the Health Centers is decreasing (the graph excludes treatment through dedicated health teams deployed in the shelters).
Reportedly, there were 75 rockets and 81 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 168 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 35 navy shells. 168 tank shells were fired from the fence into populated areas. Reportedly, 33 houses were bombarded.
Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 109 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.
More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here.
The Kerem Shalom crossing was open.