Gaza Emergency

Gaza Emergency

Dr. Mahmoud Shaker, former deputy chief of the UNRWA health programme in Gaza. © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan.
“Over the last thirty years of working with UNRWA, Palestine refugees’ dignity, needs, and quality of services were always our priority. To this end, there were always initiatives for empowering UNRWA health teams and reforming management,” says Dr. Mahmoud Shaker
United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake meets with UNRWA student parliamentarians in Gaza, oPt. © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Rula A
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, conducted an official mission to the West Bank and Gaza, as part of her first visit to the Middle East. During the mission, Ms. Wickramanayake visited schools, vocational training centres, health centres and youth summer camps run by UNRWA. She also met with business owners supported by the UNRWA microfinance programme. Ms. Wickramanayake then visited with young UNRWA students who, she described as, “A testimony to the power of quality education even in the most complex situations.” “UNRWA students are amongst...
25 year-old Lamess Lolowith her 10 day-old baby Riyad visit with their doctor at an UNRWA health centre in Gaza. © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
Health is fundamental to human development. It is also a sector where change and challenges are constant. Every year brings new technological and scientific advances, new risks and threats to public health, and ever greater societal expectations for higher standards of health. As their main comprehensive primary health care provider, UNRWA has played a key role in promoting the health and well-being of millions of Palestine refugees over the past 70 years. Maternal and child health is a priority for UNRWA, and the Agency provides antenatal care, including comprehensive initial physical...
gaza - great march of return
The so-called Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations began one year ago on 30 March 2018 to demand the end of the Israeli blockade and the right of return for refugees. One year on, the response of the Israeli Security Forces to these demonstrations has resulted in the largest number of injured persons since the 2014 hostilities. Read the UNRWA report on the impact on Palestine refugees and UNRWA services: “Gaza’s Great March of Return”, One Year On ...

The ongoing blockade on land, air and sea imposed by Israel following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 will enter its 13th year in June 2019 in the context of ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territory.  Long-standing restrictions on movement of people and goods have led to a de-development of Gaza and have had a devastating effect on people’s lives.  Today, just over one million Palestine refugees out of a total population of 1.4 million are reliant on UNRWA food assistance, as compared to just 80,000 in 2000.

In addition, repeated hostilities in recent years have caused tremendous levels of destruction of physical infrastructure, loss of human life, and have contributed to serious deterioration of the social fabric. Already high levels of psychosocial stress, especially among children, have been further exacerbated in the context of the high human costs of the so-called Great March or Return demonstrations (hyperlink) on the Gaza side of the security fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel that began on 30 March 2018.

 13 years of blockade

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air. Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossings. 

Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.

 what we do - emergency response


As the largest UN organization in the Gaza Strip and the only UN Agency that implements services directly, UNRWA has been and continues to be in a unique position to deliver emergency assistance to Palestine refugees in Gaza. In addition to its human development services, primarily in the fields of education and health, critical emergency interventions provided by UNRWA in 2019 focus on:



Supporting the most vulnerable in Gaza with vital food

Access to food in Gaza remains a challenge for a majority of refugees struggling with deteriorating socio-economic conditions

To address food insecurity , UNRWA provides emergency assistance to just over one million Palestine refugees, or about 75 per cent of all Palestine refugees in the coastal enclave, who lack the financial means to cover their basic food. ...  more


Cash-for-Work in Gaza: Supporting Households amid Rising Unemployment

The UNRWA Cash-for-Work (CfW) programme aims to ensure that poor refugee households are able to cover basic needs in a dignified manner through provision of short-term employment opportunities, with priority being given to the most vulnerable groups such as female-headed households, persons with disabilities and those with no alternative sources of income. 

... more



Mitigating psychosocial pressure on Palestine refugee children in Gaza 

The protracted humanitarian crisis continues to have a significant impact on the psychosocial well-being of children and families. Crucial mental health and psychosocial activities are embedded within existing UNRWA education and health services. In line with this approach, UNRWA provides individual and group mental health and psychosocial services (MHPSS) support to vulnerable adults, ... more


Education brings
hope in

To mitigate the impact of protection threats associated with conflict, violence and continued erosion of socio-economic conditions, including environmental and health hazards, on Palestine refugees, UNRWA provides emergency health interventions, education in emergencies, support to functioning of essential water and sanitation services, and mainstreams protection programming across its services. , more 

 Gaza Shelter Reconstruction


The 2014 hostilities caused significant destruction in Gaza with 141,650 Palestine refugee housing units damaged, including 12,950 that were severely damaged or totally destroyed. In addition, the hostilities further weakened electricity, water, and sanitation systems, already suffering through years of neglect due to blockade and internal divide... more

* Number of totally demolished homes as a result of the 2014 hostilities is 7,400. Around 2,400 shelters are excluded from the graph as they have been reconstructed for by MoPW.

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UNRWA in Gaza - Key Statistics

  • 1.4 million registered refugees out of 1.9 million total population (approximately 74 per cent)
  • 8 refugee camps
  • Over 13,000 staff
  • 274 schools for over 278,000  students
  • 22 health centres
  • 16 relief and social services offices
  • 3 micro-finance offices 
  • 11 food distribution centres for almost one million beneficiaries
  • 5 maintenance and 8 infrastructure and camp improvement branch offices to ensure refuse disposal, insect/pest control and regular maintenance works