Gaza Situation Report 208

17 October 2017
Students during class at one of UNRWA schools.  © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj

26 September – 10 October 2017 | Issue 208

Highlights

  • The blockade on the Gaza Strip has entailed a tight control over all aspects of life since 2007, severely restricting the movement of people, as well as goods. This lack of freedom of movement impacts the Palestinians’ right to enjoy the highest standards of human rights and development, including the realisation of the right to health. Years of socioeconomic decline, conflict and closure have left the health sector across the Gaza Strip lacking in adequate physical infrastructure and sufficient medical training opportunities for health staff. Facilities are overstretched, and service is frequently interrupted by power cuts. These challenges further threaten the health of the population, which is already at increasing risk. According to the World Health Organization, of 1,883 patient applications for a permit to exit Gaza through Erez checkpoint for hospital appointments in August 2017, 55 per cent were approved, 3 per cent were denied, and 42 per cent were delayed with no response by the time of the patient’s hospital appointment. Among those delayed were 169 children under the age of 18 years and 76 people aged 60 years or older. Five cancer patients died while awaiting security permits to travel for health care.

  • On 4 October, Ambassador Ahmet Yıldız, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey and his delegation composed of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency and the Turkish Red Crescent concluded a two-day visit to UNRWA fields in Gaza and the West Bank in conjunction with Turkey’s responsibilities in the Advisory Commission (AdCom) of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as Vice Chair and Chair in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The Deputy Foreign Minister and his delegation met with the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl as well as other officials from UNRWA and Palestine refugees The objective of the mission was to gain first-hand knowledge of the humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees in the region and explore together how Turkey can further support UNRWA in delivering essential services for refugees. In Gaza, the delegation received a briefing by the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, and visited an UNRWA school in Shujaiyyeh as well as one of the Agency’s 12 distribution centres in Gaza where almost one million beneficiaries collect quarterly food rations.

  • The UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) implements initiatives to support both old and young people in Gaza. On 28 September, RSSP held the graduation ceremony of the “Radio Broadcast Presentation Skills” training which targeted female Palestine refugee graduates. The training is part of the Young Voices from Palestine initiative which promotes community participation of young people. At the end of the ceremony, certificates were handed to the graduates, and trainers were honoured for their efforts in making the training a success. From 13 August to 19 September, 15 young female journalists participated in the 50-hour training programme, implemented by Forsan Al Irada radio station, one of the community-based rehabilitation centres in Deir el-Balah, Middle Area, with which RSSP partners. The programme consisted of two phases. The participants first received training in podcasting and broadcasting, which was followed by the broadcasting often live radio episodes on youth and community issues produced by the participants themselves. Focusing on elderly persons, RSSP held a ceremony to celebrate the International Day for Older Persons under the United Nations theme for 2017 “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.” The ceremony which was attended by 85 elderly Palestine refugees and UNRWA staff included different activities such as songs, drawings, games and poems. RSSP empowers Palestine refugees, particularly the most vulnerable groups, by meeting their social and economic needs through community social interventions. RSSP provides a wide range of activities such as the distribution of food baskets, regular assessment of refugees’ poverty status and eligibility for services through social workers, and skills training and capacity building mainly for women, children and youth.

  • Under this year’s theme “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”, the world celebrated World Teachers’ Day (WTD) on 5 October. This year’s theme echoed that of 2015 which followed the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 and reaffirmed teacher empowerment as a top priority in all education and development strategies. To provide quality, equitable and inclusive basic education, UNRWA endeavours to empower and support the professional development of its teachers through initiatives and training such as the School-Based Teacher Development training programme (SBTD), Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance toolkit or the Inclusive Education and Curriculum Framework. The WTD is a good occasion to celebrate the vital contribution teachers make to education and development. To commemorate this day, UNRWA Gaza Field Education Programme held a celebration to honour over 400 teachers, school principals and their deputies, including a number of retired teachers, for their commitment to providing quality education to Palestine refugee students in Gaza. The ceremony brought together the UNRWA Director of Education, Dr. Caroline Pontefract,  the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack and Chief, Field Education Programme Mr. Farid Abu Athra, in addition to other senior staff and more than 500 teachers, school principals as well as heads of parents’ school councils.

  • UNRWA continues to implement infrastructure and construction projects that address some of the most pressing human development needs in the Gaza Strip. 22 infrastructure projects worth US$ 52.4million are under implementation while 16 projects worth US$ 23.1 million are currently awaiting implementation. In September, UNRWA imported 52 trucks of construction materials included on the list of dual-use items that Israel considers to have a “dual” military and civilian purpose such as cement, white cement, steel pipes, steel reinforcement bars, raw materials and elevators for ongoing UNRWA infrastructure projects. Forty-five trucks were loaded with cement, two with reinforcement bars and one with white cement while one truck carried an elevator, one steel pipes and two raw materials.

Shelter update

Activities in September 2017:

Completed cases:

  • The reconstruction of 54 totally destroyed homes was completed.
  • Repair works for 112 housing units were completed.

Disbursement of payments

  • In total UNRWA disbursed approximately US$ 2.91 million for shelter assistance:
    • For reconstruction: US$ 2,536,116
    • For repair works: US$ 372,569

Operational Environment

  • On 27, 29 and 30 September and on 1, 2, 7 and 8 October, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, forcing them ashore. No injuries were reported.
  • On 29 September and on 6 October civilians, mostly youth, staged protests against the blockade near the perimeter fence in different areas of Gaza. When some of them approached the fence and threw stones towards Israeli observation posts, Israeli forces responded with gunfire and teargas. Five injuries were reported.
  • Other protests were held during the week in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to demand additional support from UNRWA and other UN agencies.
  • On 29 September, a test rocket was fired by Palestinian militants toward the sea.
  • On 6 October, an Israeli sky-rider drone crashed in east Bureij camp, central Gaza. No injuries were reported.
  • On 8 October, Israeli forces positioned at the fence opened fire towards Palestinian areas. No injuries were reported.
  • On 8 October, Israeli forces positioned at the perimeter fence fired three shells targeting a military observation post and open area. No injuries were reported.

UNRWA Response

Young Palestine refugee women celebrate their success and self-confidence with support from UNRWA Gender Initiative

24-year-old, Isra’a Shahin, a participant in the UNRWA Young Women Leaders Programme. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
24-year-old, Isra’a Shahin, a participant in the UNRWA Young Women Leaders Programme. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj

The Young Women Leaders Programme (YWLP) is implemented by the UNRWA Gender Initiative in partnership with Community-Based Organisation (CBOs) across the Gaza Strip. The programme aims at improving the skills of women graduates in management, administration, human rights, English language, IT and interview techniques. Following the training, the graduates have the chance to apply their skills through a three-month work placement opportunity across various sectors including in the private sector, non-governmental organizations and CBOs.

“The Young Women Leadership Programme was comprehensive and included a lot of valuable training. It helps fresh graduates like me to improve our chances in the labour market. Without these skills, we are unable to compete against the thousands of graduates looking for jobs in Gaza,” commented 24-year old Isra’a Shahin, holder of a bachelors degree in business administration, who joined the YWLP to complement her theoretical knowledge with practical experience in communications and life skills.

Due to the Israeli-imposed blockade and severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, the enclave’s economy is devastated and unable to absorb the thousands of qualified graduates who enter its labour market each year. Gaza suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates worldwide. In the second quarter of 2017, the average unemployment rate stood at 44 per cent, the highest rate is recorded among female youth at 71.5 per cent, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In light of these unemployment rates, the outlook for Gaza’s youth is bleak, yet the young female graduates of the YWLP are not giving up.

“Having a degree is no longer enough to get employment - it is only the first step. This training gave me skills and helped me promote myself. After finishing the three-month training, I feel like a new person. My self-esteem has increased and my involvement in and understanding of the Gaza community has changed.”  Isra’a added proudly.

Last week, 500 young women celebrated their graduation from the Gender Initiative’s “Young Women Leaders Programme (YWLP)”. The ceremony performances were developed by the graduates themselves with support from Forsan Al-Arab Association. The ceremony offered an opportunity for graduates to improve their team working skills and also to showcase self-confidence through performances such as drama, singing or speeches. The performances reflected various obstacles and challenges young women face in Gaza Strip and also focused on women’s motivation, ambitions and the strong will to promote change in their communities and create a better future for women in Gaza.

The YWLP is designed to empower and build the capacity of unemployed young female graduates between 22 to 28 years old through training and work placements. It also aims to close the skills gap between the labour market ensuring women are developing transferable skills and experience. Through leadership and self-development coaching, advanced training in computers, English and management - combined with work placement schemes - the programme enhances the employability and self-confidence of young women graduates.

“In Gaza, in a society that is male-dominated, it is especially hard for a woman to prove herself,” Isra’a said. “But I have a good attitude, energy and now support and I will achieve - for me and for my family.”

Since the launch of the YWLP in 2011, the programme has provided training to 5,051 young female graduates.  The aim of the programme is not only the professional development of young women, but also to raise their standing in the community and in their homes by helping them to gain become active participants in society.

Funding Needs

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$ 295 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$ 425 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.

Crossings

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.

Crossing

26 Sep.

27 Sep.

28 Sep.

29 Sep.

30 Sep.

1Oct.

2oct.

3 Oct.

4 Oct.

5 Oct.

6 Oct.

7 Oct.

8 Oct.

9 Oct.

Rafah

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Open for entering the Palestinian factions delegation into Egypt

Erez

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open in one direction to enter Gaza

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open in both directions for pedestrian only and in one direction for Gaza ID holders to enter Gaza

Open for urgent humanitarian and medical cases only.

Open for urgent humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open

Open for all individual pedestrians and vehicles in both directions

Kerem Shalom

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open for fuel only

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

 

 

Open

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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