Gaza Situation Report 217-218

05 March 2018
© UNRWA Gaza 2018. Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj

30 January – 27 February 2018 | issues 217 and 218

Highlights

  • On 31 January, UNRWA launched an appeal for its 2018 emergency programmes of over US$ 800 million for the Syria regional crisis and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In Gaza, UNRWA will require US$ 354 million to address urgent priority humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees, including through the distribution of food baskets, the provision of temporary work opportunities, emergency health and education, as well as shelter. In the coastal enclave, the political and security situation remains volatile, with the land, air and sea blockade now in its eleventh year. Employment opportunities are stifled by the blockade – the unemployment rate in Gaza remains among the highest rates worldwide – and almost 1 million Palestine refugees are dependent on emergency food assistance, a tenfold increase on the 100,000 that required such support in 2000.  Three and a half years on from the 2014 hostilities, which caused unprecedented destruction and loss of life, 2,500 Palestine refugee families remain displaced, and repairs to almost 50,000 homes remain outstanding.

  • In light of UNRWA’s current financial crisis and as part of his extensive media outreach, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza Matthias Schmale was interviewed by a number of local, regional and international media outlets, including Palestine TV, Los Angeles Times, Al Arabi TV, Al Ghad TV, Russia Today, ZDF, ARD, Le Monde, the Economist and Al Jazeera English. In his engagement with media, Mr. Schmale focused in particular on the Agency’s financial situation and the implications on the lives of Palestine refugees in Gaza in line with UNRWA’s commitment to convey the plight of Palestine refugees to the international community.

  • On 26 February, staff and beneficiaries of seven Community-Based Rehabilitation Centres (CBRC) across Gaza which provide educational and other services to persons with disabilities assembled in front of the main gate of the UNRWA Gaza Field Office. In solidarity with the Agency and fearing the severe consequences of a reduction in services due to lack of funding, this especially vulnerable group of refugees demanded respect for their right to live in dignity and called for supporting UNRWA to ensure their continued access to quality education and health services.

Operational Environment

  • Between 31 January and 27 February, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip on 17 occasions, forcing them ashore. One fatality was reported and six fishermen were arrested.

    Between 31 January and 27 February, Israeli forces positioned at the border fence opened fire towards Palestinian areas on 15 occasions. Four injuries were reported.

    During the reporting period, on eleven occasions, civilians, mostly youth, staged protests against the US President’s decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem 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. 61 injuries and one fatality were reported.

    On 3 February, a 30-year-old Palestinian man attempted to commit suicide by pouring gasoline on himself in Jabalia.

    On 5 February, a 20-year-old Palestinian man attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself inside his house in Gaza City.

    On 8 February, a 23-year-old Palestinian man attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself inside his house in Khan Younis.

    On 9 February, a 20-year-old Palestinian man committed suicide by hanging himself in his house in Jabalia camp.

    On 16 February, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was seriously injured due to the explosion of an UXO in Jabalia area, south of the North area. The injured boy was transferred to a local hospital for treatment.

    On 20 February, a Gaza-wide partial commercial and traffic strike took place to protest against the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA’s Response

AVOIDING SECONDARY COMPLICATIONS: NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES REQUIRE ROUTINE CHECK-UPS
Rehab Abed (left), a practical nurse at the UNRWA Beach Camp Health Centre, explains to Mohammed Ali Al-Reyahi (right) about risks of, and mitigating actions against, diabetes-related complications. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Sarraj
Rehab Abed (left), a practical nurse at the UNRWA Beach Camp Health Centre, explains to Mohammed Ali Al-Reyahi (right) about risks of, and mitigating actions against, diabetes-related complications. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Sarraj

Mohammed Ali Al-Reyahi, a 57-year-old Palestine refugee and breadwinner of a nine-member family explains: “I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002. For more than fifteen years now, I have been a regular visitor to the Beach health centre. I visit the centre every month to do my regular medical check-ups, and get my free medications.”

Reflecting global trends, the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes and hypertension is on the rise in Gaza. A balanced diet should include all of the essential dietary components like proteins, carbohydrates, minimal fat and oil, fruits and vegetables, which is difficult to be available or secured among the refugee population in Gaza who suffer from deepening of poverty and the deteriorating socioeconomic situation. As a consequence, they mainly focus in their diet on cheap and easily available carbohydrates and oils which lead to obesity and the developing of diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Forced urbanization, over-crowding and related psycho-social stress can aggravate these diseases. There has been a continuous increase in the number of diabetic and hypertensive cases in Gaza by around 5 percent every year since 2008. While in 2008 the number of diabetic and hypertensive cases was 49,442, 84,093 cases were counted in 2017.

Mohammed visits the UNRWA Beach Camp Health Centre every month to ensure good monitoring of his health condition. During his regular visits, he receives different services such as blood, diabetes and hypertension tests, in addition to participating in awareness-raising sessions. “Last year, I attended four information sessions organized by the Beach Camp Health Centre on diabetes. I learned a lot about how to lead a healthy lifestyle, have a balanced diet and do more sports,” Mohammed commented.

NCD patients require routine health check-ups and consistent access to medicines. Interruptions to either or both elements of treatment for extended periods of time are likely to trigger secondary complications, such as blindness and infections, in the case of diabetes. Early detection and prevention are therefore critical to protect diabetes patients from the secondary effects of the disease. In 2017, UNRWA was able to expand its preventive medical services and screened a total of 103,310 individuals for diabetes and hypertension.

“Through our regular work and outreach sessions, we endeavor to provide quality health services to patients with non-communicable diseases. One of these awareness initiatives is the Micro-clinic Programme, which is designed to address increasing diabetes rates among the Palestine refugee community in Gaza. Health education and healthy lifestyle practices are key to better monitor the conditions of NCD patients and to help others either control existing conditions of prevent the onset of diabetes,” said Rehab Abed, a practical nurse at the Beach Camp Health Centre.

Through its 22 Health Centres, UNRWA provides primary health care services to the vast majority of the 1.3 million Palestine refugees in Gaza. Health Centres also provide clinic and laboratory services, along with personalized maternal health and family planning.

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. The recent announcement by its largest donor, the United States, to drastically reduce its funding to US$ 60 million in 2018 presents the Agency with a significant challenge in delivering its essential services in a predictable manner. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget in 2018. 

UNRWA’s emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding arrangements. Prioritised needs in Gaza in relation to the 2018 oPt Emergency Appeal include US$ 80 million for the distribution of emergency food parcels to almost 1 million people, at least US$ 10 million for creating temporary cash-for-work opportunities through UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme as well as US$ 7 million for the Agency’s Community Mental Health Programme. Furthermore, following the 2014 conflict, US$ 316 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$ 404 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 reconstruction of their demolished homes.

Crossings

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 the Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and a limited number 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.

Crossing

30 Jan

31 Jan

1 Feb

2Feb

3Feb

4Feb

5 Feb

6 Feb

7 Feb

8 Feb

9 Feb

10 Feb

11 Feb

12 Feb

Rafah

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Erez

Open.

Open,

Open.

open for urgent humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open

Open.

open for urgent humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open,

Kerem Shalom

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed from Palestinian side

Closed from Palestinian side

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Closed from Palestinian side

 

Crossing

13 Feb

14 Feb

15 Feb

16 Feb

17 Feb

18 Feb

19 Feb

20 Feb

21 Feb

22 Feb

23 Feb

24 Feb

25 Feb

26 Feb

Rafah

Closed

Closed.

Closed.

Open for fuel only.

Closed.

Closed.

Open in one direction to allow the stranded people to return to Gaza.

Open in one direction to allow the stranded people to return to Gaza.

Open in one direction

Closed.

Open for fuel only.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed

Erez

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open for urgent humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

open for urgent humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Kerem Shalom

Closed from Palestinian side

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

 

UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
Join the #DignityIsPriceless campaign to stand up #ForPalestineRefugees