Gaza situation report 155
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.
- To increase the capacity of Gaza refugee youth to design and implement their own projects, the Social Services Division of the UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) is implementing a fundraising and proposal writing training from 31 July to 18 August for 12 female and 8 male youth in Gaza city. The participants were selected through partnering Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), Community-Based Rehabilitation Centres (CBRCs) as well as Women Programme Centres (WPCs) across the Gaza Strip. The training includes a variety of subjects related to project management, such as budget calculations, evaluation, and communications with donors. RSSP aims to empower Palestine refugees, focusing on the most vulnerable groups, by meeting their social and economic needs through community social interventions. It conducts activities through 14 CBOs, seven Women’s Programme Centres (WPC) and seven Community-Based Rehabilitation Centres (CBRC) for persons with disabilities. Its Social Services Division contains five programmes which are: the Youth Programme, Elderly Programme, Orphan Programme, Women Programme and the Disability Programme.
- UNRWA TV is currently producing 24 new multimedia episodes for its Education in Emergencies project, focusing on the core subjects of Arabic, English, Science and Mathematics. The episodes will be broadcast in September at the beginning of the scholastic year 2016-2017. The content is relevant for all Palestine refugee children in all five fields of UNRWA operations, irrespective of their national curricula. The educational elements are based on a modern TV format including classrooms, science experiments, documentaries, songs, music clips, drama, and animation; overall, the production is based on a “children are teaching children” approach, which aligns with Communication for Development (C4D) methods. UNRWA TV provides high quality self-learning supplements for students, teachers and families in emergencies who have limited or disrupted access to formal education. This ensures that refugee children can access education even in areas of instability and in post-conflict settings, restoring routine and giving children hope for the future. In Gaza, recurrent hostilities and the ongoing blockade continue to impact the learning environment for Palestine refugee children, and frequently disrupt access to formal education for the enclave’s child population, including over 263,000 students at UNRWA schools. In the West Bank, Palestinian students’ access to education is affected by movement restrictions including the separation barrier and checkpoints, attacks on schools, and settler violence. In addition, the UN estimates that over 5.4 million chil dren have been displaced within and outside of Syria. Although Palestine refugee children from Syria are able to enrol in UNRWA schools in Jordan and Lebanon, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that 80 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, and 56 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Jordan, are not enrolled in school.
- Besides the regular sports and arts activities, during this year’s Summer Fun Weeks (SFWs) each area of Gaza implements special activities under a specific theme. Gaza city’s theme is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to raise awareness on the value of natural resources. For this purpose, the Agency conducts arts workshops based on the usage of recycling material. Prior to the SFWs, the SFW team collected waste material such as plastic bottles, tires, ropes or sponges, available at the UNRWA warehouses in Karni Industrial Zone, which can be multi-purposed and used to create handicrafts. UNRWA also cooperates with the Belgian artist Michele Vanvlasselaer who is teaching the children how to produce beautiful art pieces by combining and playing with glass, plastic and sunlight. The aim of these classes is to stimulate the children’s creativity and raise awareness on how material that is usually thrown away can be re-used and re-cycled. The most creative and special pieces created during these recycling workshops will be transported to Brussels where they will be exhibited together with similar pieces produced by Belgian children who will participate in the same arts workshops with the Belgian artist. In addition to recreational activities for over 165,000 refugee children, the SFWs also help to revive the local Gaza economy, devastated by over nine years of blockade and repeated cycles of armed conflict. Through the SFWs, UNRWA has created a total of 2,267 short term job opportunities for mostly young unemployed Palestine refugees through the Agency’s Job Creation Programme (JCP). In addition, all materials used for the activities are purchased from the local market, including over 850,000 bottles of juice and the same number of snacks for the participating children. Repair of some of the SFWs equipment has also been completed by local businesses.
- The UNRWA Health Programme, in cooperation with Al Azhar University, organized a graduation ceremony for the graduates of the Family Medicine Diploma Programme on 2 August at Al Azhar university. The one-year long diploma programme aimed at enhancing the practical and clinical skills of UNRWA medical officers to increase the quality of UNRWA primary health care services for Palestine refugees in Gaza. A total of 15 UNRWA medical officers completed the course and received their certificates during the ceremony which was also attended by the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, and other senior UNRWA staff. The Family Medicine Diploma Programme was launched in July 2015 and consisted of online lectures, workshops, and practical sessions in UNRWA Health Centres under the supervision of four tutors from Al Azhar university. The programme was part of the UNRWA health reform and the related family health team approach. Traditionally, patients have been attended by different doctors for different problems, and even specific problems were not always treated by the same doctor. In contrast, through the health reform, the family health teams are responsible for the health services of families.
- The international organization Physicians for Human Rights has issued a report titled ‘Amputees’ that addresses the conditions of persons in Gaza who were left with amputated limbs following the 2014 conflict. During the 2014 hostilities, over 2,200 persons were killed and over 11,000 injured in Gaza; approximately 1,100 inured children will have to live with life-long disabilities. According to the report, the extensive violence during the 50 days of hostilities in summer 2014 also produced approximately 100 new amputees - the majority of them under thirty years old - among the Gaza population who do not only have to deal with the traumatic amputation itself, but also with a difficult recovery process in a place under blockade since over nine years and the related crippled health sector, poor public infrastructure, ruined streets and non-powered elevators due to lack of electricity. Bureaucratic difficulties and restrictions when seeking treatment outside of Gaza as well as the psycho-social impact of losing a limb, and the diminished social status, all make it extremely difficult for amputees to cope with their injuries. Further, in a place with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, these persons face even more difficulties to make a living and cope with the financial burdens related to their treatment. According to the report, approximately 2.4 per cent of the people of Gaza – or 42,240 persons – live with some form of disability, almost 50 per cent of them with movement restrictions. To show the faces and stories behind these numbers, PHR published the report alongside the blog #GazaAmputees.
The UNRWA shelter update
- During the reporting week, UNRWA was able to disburse over US$ 2.5 million for the second quarter of transitional shelter cash assistance (US$ 135,600), reconstruction (US$ 2,047,892) and severe repair works (US$ 365,531). The funds will reach a total of 659 families across the Gaza Strip; they will access their assistance this week.
Overview of assistance disbursed
As of 28 July 2016:
Completed and ongoing payments
As of 28 July, 2016:
- UNRWA has completed the payments to over 67,000 refugee families for minor repair works, to 3,346 families to repair their severely damaged shelters, to 13 families for major repair works, and to 201 families for reconstruction.
- Payment transfers for over 11,380 refugee families to continue repair works of their shelters and for almost 1,000 families to continue the reconstruction of their shelters are ongoing.
- UNRWA continues to pay transitional shelter cash assistance (TSCA) for eligible refugee families still displaced by the 2014 conflict. Approximately 8,500 eligible families have received the first tranche of rental subsidy payments for 2016, and approximately 7,150 families received the second quarter payment. In 2015, UNRWA paid TSCA to approximately 9,000 eligible refugee families and from September to December 2015 13,250 families received rental subsidy payments.
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:
- Payments to 6,301 refugee families to start repairing their totally destroyed homes are outstanding.
- The total costs of reconstructing their homes amounts to approximately US$ 283.54 million
Funding gaps and needs – rental subsidy payments
As of 28 July 2016:
- Approximately 1,350 eligible refugee families still displaced by the 2014 conflict have not received transitional shelter cash assistance (TSCA) for the second quarter in 2016. The US$ 23.3 million in TSCA needed to assist the 2014 conflict emergency caseload in 2016 has been included in the oPt Emergency Appeal 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:
- Over 60,160 families have not received any payments to undertake repair works for their minor damaged homes (total estimate repair costs: US$ 67.9 million).
- 3,192 families have not received any payments to repair or start repairing their major damaged homes (total estimate repair costs: US$ 28.7 million),
- Payments to 1,088 families to repair or start repairing their severely damaged homes are outstanding (total estimate costs: US$ 9.7 million). Out of these, UNRWA has processed the documents of approximately 56,900 families with damaged shelters and could disburse payments (first and second tranche payments) to these families immediately upon receipt of funding.
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.
Through its cash for work programme, UNRWA restores dignity and self-reliance for thousands of Palestine refugees in Gaza
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.
Summary of Major Incidents
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.
- Rafah crossing was closed during the reporting week.
- Erez crossing is usually open six days a week. This week it was open for National ID holders (humanitarian cases, medical cases, merchants and UN staff) and international staff from 26 to 28 July and 31 July to 2 August. On 29 July it was open for pedestrians only. It was closed on 30 July.
- Kerem Shalom crossing is the only official crossing open for the transfer of goods into and out of the Strip and is usually open five days a week. It was from 26 to 28 July and from 31 July to 2 August. It was closed on 28 and 29 July.
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