10 January – 17 January 2017 | issue 177
“This job gave me the opportunity to meet new and more experienced people and to learn from them; I wish that all graduates could have the same opportunity I got.”
Ala’a Abu Al-Ajeen, a Job-Creation Programme beneficiary. Read more here.
Activities in December 2016:
Disbursement of payments:
I Total summary:
II Funding status for totally destroyed houses
(UNRWA and PA/Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing
III Allocation of assistance disbursed
During the reporting week, protestors, civilians and youth, expressed 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 teargas.
Various other protests were held during the week, predominantly against further electricity cuts. In some occasions police intervened and dispersed protestors and injuries were reported. Also the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, expressed his “great concern” about the tense situation unfolding in Gaza after two million Palestinians “have been left with just a couple of hours of electricity per day in the middle of the winter.”
During the week under review, Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on a daily basis. One injury was reported, and two fishermen were arrested and their boats confiscated.
A 20-year old Palestinian man attempted to commit suicide by burning himself; he was transferred to the hospital. Two Palestinian men were arrested by Israeli forces when they tried to enter Israel through the perimeter fence. A fire broke out in a shop due to a short circuit; the shop sustained damage. A 27-year old Palestinian woman was found dead in her house; the background of the incident is unclear.
Eight Israeli bulldozers entered approximately 50 metres into Gaza on two different occasions to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. In one incident Palestinian militants fired towards Israeli troops and Israeli forces responded with Heavy Machine Gun fire and fired one shell targeting a Hamas observation post. No injuries were reported.
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 three of 2016, the joblessness rate stood at an average at 43.2 per cent and at 68.6 per cent for women, reports the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). The situation is particularly bleak for youth – for many, finding a job that pays bills and allows paying rent and raising a family remains a far-off dream, as the unemployment rate for youth stands at an average of 64 per cent.
Through its Job-Creation Programme (JCP), UNRWA tries to mitigate the impact of the collapsed Gaza economy and labour market by providing livelihood opportunities for Palestine refugees. The programme offers job placements in the unskilled and skilled sectors for three or six months in UNRWA installations or community organizations supporting rehabilitation work in the Gaza Strip.
20-year-old Palestine refugee Ala’a Abu Al-Ajeen lives with her 12-member family in Deir El-Balah camp in central Gaza; after completingvocational training in media at the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre she received a six month JCP opportunity as photographer in a rehabilitation association in the camp where she lives.
“This month is my fourth month working as a photographer in this association; I gained a lot of practical experience and improved my photography a lot. The money I earn I save to follow a diploma in media studies. Overall, this has been and still is a very positive experience for me which allowed me also to become more confident and play a more productive role in the community,” Ala’a explained.
The JCP offers a source of income, dignity, self-respect and self-reliance for Palestine refugee families. For many women in particular, it also offers a chance to be exposed to and play a role in the public space, since due to conservative cultural norms and traditions in Gaza women are often confined to the private sphere. The money earned through short-term job opportunities is mostly spent to cover basic needs such as medicine, fresh food or clothes, but also for further education, as in the case of Ala’a.
“In the beginning, my father was opposed to the idea of me working outside of the house, yet because he trusts UNRWA and because the Deir El-Balah Rehabilitation Association has a very good reputation in the camp, he ultimately agreed to it,” Ala’a added, obviously satisfied about her father’s change of mind.
“We have a lot of visibility and photography requests, and Ala’a is a great asset, helping with the workload which I cannot cover alone; after she finishes her JCP, I hope we will find the funds to keep her with us,” commented her supervisor Mr. Salat.
The JCP is one of the most effective means to support communities, inject cash into the local economy and stabilize struggling businesses. Between January and November 2016, UNRWA created job opportunities for approximately 19,200 beneficiaries through the Job Creation Programme (JCP), injecting US$ 13.86 million into the Gaza economy.
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. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
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 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt.
The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. 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 travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.