11–18 April 2017| Issue 190
Israeli patrol boats fired towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip on an almost daily basis, forcing them ashore. No injuries were reported. On 16 April, Israeli bulldozers and tanks entered approximately 60 metres from the perimeter fence into Gaza to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. They withdrew on the same day.
Civilians, mostly youth, staged protests near the perimeter fence in different areas of Gaza to express their eagerness to defend Al Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank and Palestinians in Israeli prisons. When some of them approached the fence and threw stones towards Israeli observation posts, Israeli forces responded with gunfire and teargas. No injuries were reported.
On 13 April, UNRWA Local Staff Union (LSU) closed all UNRWA Gaza Field Office and headquarters gates, preventing vehicle access and egress, including of executive management, between 12:00 and 13:30.
On 14 April, three Palestinians were arrested by the de facto authorities whilst attempting to enter into Israel through the perimeter fence.
Several protests were held across the Gaza Strip regarding the 30-40 per cent cut to Palestinian Authority employee allowances, impacting salaries in Gaza. Other protests that took place included regarding the electricity situation, those in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and against the blockade. On 12 April a 20-year-old man attempted suicide by taking rat poison – this was in protest to not receiving cash assistance from the de facto authorities. He remained in a serious condition during the reporting week.
The UNRWA Gaza Field Office Human Resources Office (FHRO), in cooperation with Gaza Field Operations Support Office (OSO) and Gaza Field Security and Risk Management Division (FSRM) regularly conduct induction training for newly appointed staff.
The training aims to introduce UNRWA policies, rules and regulations for new staff, to better equip them as they commence their new jobs. It also provides them with information links and sources. Topics and sessions included in the training cover performance management, payroll, allowances, transportation and movements. As well, the induction training seeks to emphasize the importance of humanitarian principles and code of conduct when working for a United Nations Agency. For example, it includes discussion on what and why there are humanitarian principles and how to commit to neutrality.
The training includes a focus on safety and security responsibilities and obligations whilst an UNRWA staff member. Sessions are focused on incidents reporting, personal security awareness, fire safety, first aid, road safety and awareness of explosive remnants of war (ERW).
Fatema Hamdan has been working as a Human Resources Associate in the Field Human Resources Office for the past nineteen years and is one of five trainers responsible for leading in the induction training.
“I work in the entitlements division in human resources at UNRWA Gaza, so my role in the sessions is to train and explain to new staff about their benefits, including dependency allowances, sick, annual and unpaid leaves, transportation allowances and health insurance,” Fatema said. “The training is important because the new staff don’t know anything about the agency rules and regulations.”
“To ensure that the information reach to the participants and avoid routine we use different training tools such as presentations, case studies, scenarios and targeted questions,” said trainer Huda Shabat. “To avoid mistakes during work and ensure an understanding of staff rights and responsibilities, it is important to get the right information from the right source.”
Since 2011, the UNRWA Gaza FHRO has conducted 72 induction sessions. The total number of participants who have attended is 2,250 staff members. In addition to the induction training, FHRO publishes information on the UNRWA Gaza staff portal, distributes printed awareness brochures. It also established a client desk two years ago, to reply to staff inquiries.
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. Read more in the 2017 oPt Emergency Appeal.
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 crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, 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.