26 July – 2 August 2016 | Issue 155
“When I started to leave my home for work, I became stronger and more self-confident. I meet many people who come here because they want to rebuild their homes which were destroyed during the 2014 conflict. Through my work, I can support them; I feel I gained real experience here. All I want is to continue working.”
Fatima Al Adeli, JCP beneficiary who works as an architect in the Beit Hanoun municipality, in northern Gaza.
Overview of assistance disbursed
As of 28 July 2016:
Completed and ongoing payments
As of 28 July, 2016:
Funding gaps and needs – reconstruction
UNRWA has secured funding to reconstruct 2,000 totally destroyed homes. Funding is currently not the biggest barrier to reconstruct homes, rather it is the complex documentation requirements related to proving title to land, obtaining building and municipal permits and finalizing building design coupled with UNRWA vulnerability targeting. For all reconstruction, UNRWA prioritizes families based on poverty status (an excellent indicator for vulnerability in this context) and larger families, unlike other reconstruction actors in Gaza. In order to mitigate this barrier, UNRWA outreach engineers assist eligible families in gathering relevant documentation. With the increase in reconstruction momentum anticipated in the coming months, funding will become a key factor again in the near to medium-term future.
As of 28 July 2016:
Funding gaps and needs – rental subsidy payments
As of 28 July 2016:
Funding gaps and needs – repair works
For repairs of damages of all categories (minor, major and severe), the principal barrier to completing the outstanding repairs is funding. If current conditions remain, including adequate amounts of building material entering Gaza, UNRWA estimates that repairs could be completed within six months from receipt of sufficient funding.
As of 28 July 2016:
Regular protests took place during the reporting week, predominantly to demand the payment of salaries from the Palestinian Authority, but also in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Protests also took place to demand UNRWA job opportunities.
Several family disputes were also reported, indicative of ongoing social tensions in the Gaza Strip.
Finding a job in Gaza is not an easy venture; the socio-economic conditions in the tiny enclave are extremely dire, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. In quarter one of 2016, the joblessness rate stood at an average at 41.2 per cent and at 62.6 per cent for women, reports the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). The situation is bleaker for youth – for many finding a job that pays bills and allows paying rent and raising a family remains a far-off dream. This is particularly true for female youth for whom PCBS recorded an average unemployment rate of 80 per cent in quarter one of 2016.
80 per cent of the population in Gaza depend on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs, such as education, primary health care, food, shelter or even blankets and stoves. While UNRWA currently provides humanitarian assistance to 1.3 million Palestine refugees mostly in form of health care, education or food assistance, the Agency is very much aware of the importance of employment-related interventions to provide livelihood opportunities. UNRWA creates thousands of jobs through its construction activities, its self-help shelter programme, or its cash for work Job Creation Programme (JCP).
The JCP is one of the most effective means to support communities, inject cash into the local economy, and stabilize struggling businesses. In the first four month of 2016, UNRWA created job opportunities for 8,387 beneficiaries through the JCP, injecting US$ 4.54 million into the Gaza economy.
The JCP provides not only a source of income, but also helps to restore self-respect, dignity and some form of self-reliance to thousands of Palestine refugees. The money earned through short-term job opportunities is mostly spent to cover basic needs such as medicine, fresh food, or clothes.
“I have a BA degree in business administration and this work gave me for the first time a chance to apply my skills in coordination, management, or communications. Before, I worked as cleaner or labourer to support my family”, explained 30-year old Ibrahim Nasser, a JCP beneficiary who works as supervisor of other JCPs in Nuseirat camp, central Gaza. “The money I earn through this job opportunity I spend on medical treatment for my family,” he states further.
The programme targets both skilled and unskilled workers as well as professionals. Priority is given to applicants from household who have been assessed as living below the poverty line of less than US$ 3.87 per person per day; other criteria are gender, age, skills, or location. Overall, UNRWA aims to provide 35 per cent of skilled opportunities to women and 25 per cent of all job opportunities to youth. UNRW also offers thousands of opportunities for recent graduates from Gaza’s universities through its Graduate Training Programme.
Due to a long waiting list (currently six years), opportunities for skilled positions are offered for a maximum of three months and contracts for skilled positions are capped at six months. Only one member of a given household is eligible for a job opportunity at any one point in time.
For many women, the JCP is also an opportunity to leave their house, to socialize, network and gain more self-confidence:
“When I started to leave my home for work, I became stronger and more self-confident. I deal with many different people and I enhanced my network which will hopefully help me in the future. I have learned a lot through this work opportunity, especially regarding the discrepancy between theoretical design and real implementation. In addition, I meet many people who come here because they want to rebuild their homes which were destroyed during the 2014 conflict. Through my work, I can support them; I feel I gained real experience here. All I want to continue working,” commented 28-year old Fatima Al Adeli, a skilled JCP beneficiary who works as architect in the municipality of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza. “The money I earn I mostly spend for medicine and for clothes for my children,” she added.
JCPs are placed inside and outside UNRWA installations. Generally, the Agency identifies placements that will have a high community impact, such as economically deprived areas or those aimed at rehabilitating infrastructure and facilities.
For 2016, URWA had planned to create almost 46,000 JCP opportunities for Palestine refugees, injecting a total of US$ 54 million into the crippled local economy. Yet due to lack of funding, UNRWA is currently struggling to maintain the programme at a level where it can make a tangible impact on the local economy and community.
During the reporting week, Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on a daily basis; a total of nine Palestinian people were arrested and two boats confiscated. Further, civilians, mostly youth, continued to protest near the perimeter fence expressing their eagerness to defend Al Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. When some of them approached the perimeter fence and threw stones towards Israeli observation posts, Israeli forces responded with gun fire and tear gas; four injuries were reported. Militants fired one test rocket towards the sea and one rocket towards Israel which dropped short. No injuries were reported.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs.
Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.
As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2016, the Agency is seeking US$ 403 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt. The Agency requires US$ 355.95 million for programme interventions in Gaza, including US$ 109.7 million for emergency food assistance, US$ 142.3 million for emergency shelter assistance, US$ 60.4 million for emergency cash-for-work assistance, US$ 4.4 million for emergency health/mobile health clinics and US$ 3.1 for education in emergencies. More information can be found here.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.8 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 crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travelers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travelers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.