Gaza Situation Report 222

29 April 2018
A ceremony under the name “Future Sports Pioneer” organized by the UNRWA Education Programme at UNRWA’s New Gaza Elementary Boys School © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Abdallah Al-Haj.

10 April – 24 April 2018 | issue 222

Highlights

  • Leaders from the international community, including the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and UN Human Rights experts have expressed grave concerns about the use of lethal force by Israeli security forces against mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters and observers during recent demonstrations near the perimeter fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip, which, according to OCHA have resulted in the death of 40 Palestinians, including 4 children (three of which attended UNRWA Schools), and the injuring of more than 5000 Palestinians since 30 March. Peaceful and non violent demonstrations and protests must be respected in accordance with international law. Civilians, particularly children, must not be intentionally put in danger or targeted in any way.  UNRWA echoes both the UN Secretary General’s call for an independent and transparent investigation into these incidents, with a view to holding accountable those responsible, as well as his appeal to prevent further injuries and loss of life.

  • On 11 April, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed the second amendment to the memorandum of understanding for an additional US$ 10 million from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) to cover reconstruction of more than 200 non-refugee shelters in addition to other rehabilitation works in the Gaza Strip. This second amendment brings the total SFD contribution to shelter reconstruction to US$ 61.5 million, benefiting approximately 12,930 families. The ceremony was held at UNRWA Gaza Field Office in presence of H.E. Mofeed Al-Hasayneh, Minister of Public Works and Housing, the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Matthias Schmale, and UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator Mr. Roberto Valent.  UNRWA will administer the grant and be involved in monitoring of the project, advising on construction based on its vast experience in the Gaza Strip. The project will prioritize female-headed households and will take into consideration family size and current socio-economic status of targeted population. The 51-day hostilities in the summer of 2014 resulted in the destruction of over 18,000 housing units, leaving approximately 100,000 people homeless. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 22,000 people in the Gaza Strip remain internally displaced nearly four years after the 2014 hostilities.

  • On 23 April, the UNRWA Education Programme organized a ceremony under the name “Future Sports Pioneer”. The event, which took place at UNRWA’s New Gaza Elementary Boys School and was attended by UNRWA students and staff, included many sports activities and performances. Sport is considered a high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts as sports enhances children’s life skills, including teamwork and mutual respect, increases students’ wellbeing and has a positive effect on children’s academic performance. UNRWA in Gaza works to promote opportunities for physical activity in a constrained environment which offers little space for children, especially girls, to exercise.

  • For the past decade, the Gaza Strip has suffered from a chronic electricity deficit which continues to undermine already fragile living conditions. Gaza’s supply of electricity from Israel, Egypt and from its sole, partially functioning power plant meets only about 50 per cent of the daily requirements of its two million residents, the vast majority of whom cannot afford the high cost for fuel to complement their electricity supply through generators. As a consequence, Palestinians in Gaza experience up to 20 hours daily power outages which have severely impacted the availability of essential services, particularly health, water and sanitation services, and undermined Gaza’s fragile economy, particularly the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. Supported by donors, the UN coordinates the delivery of emergency fuel to run back-up generators to ensure that a minimum level of life-saving health, water and sanitation services are maintained. Daily updates on the electricity situation in Gaza are provided by OCHA based on information from the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, the official body in charge of electricity supply in the Gaza Strip.

  • In April, the UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) together with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, concluded a two-year training focused on improving professional and effective supervision of social workers. The training included a range of activities, including six training workshops, monthly follow-up supervision sessions as well as meetings during which participants practised their managing and communication skills, exchanged feedback, and developed solutions to proactively address work problems. Through the RSSP, UNRWA aims to empower Palestine refugees, focusing on the most vulnerable groups, by meeting their social and economic needs through community social interventions. RSSP staff conduct a wide range of activities such as the distribution of food baskets, the regular assessment of refugees’ poverty status and eligibility for services through social workers, in addition to a variety of skills training and capacity building mainly for women, children and youth.

Operational Environment

  • Between 11 and 22 April, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip on 14 occasions, forcing them ashore. No injuries were reported.

    Between 9 and 22 April, Israeli forces positioned at the border fence and opened fire towards Palestinian areas on 19 occasions. Two injuries were reported.

    Between 10 and 22 April, civilians, including many youth, continued to participate in a number of protests under the slogan “Great Return March” near the perimeter fence in different areas of Gaza. Israeli forces responded with gunfire and teargas. According to OCHA since the start of “Great Return March” on 30 March, 40 Palestinians were killed and more than 5000 injured.

    On 12 April, Israeli Forces conducted two raids and fired three missiles targeting a military training site in Gaza City. No injuries reported.

    On 12 April, Israeli Forces fired one missile targeting a group of militants in Gaza City, killing one and injuring another.

UNRWA’s Response

UNRWA student successful in World Health Organization drawing competition

Manar Sami Atot, a 14-year-old UNRWA student, holding her certificate of merit next to her winning artwork at the final ceremony of the WHO art competition held on 10 April at Rashad Al Shawwa centre, Gaza city. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khaled Tuaima
Manar Sami Atot, a 14-year-old UNRWA student, holding her certificate of merit next to her winning artwork at the final ceremony of the WHO art competition held on 10 April at Rashad Al Shawwa centre, Gaza city. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khaled Tuaima

Once again, UNRWA students in Gaza stand out and set an example of dedication and love of life despite the difficult circumstances they live in. On 10 April, Manar Sami Atot, a 14-year-old UNRWA student at Rafah Preparatory Girls School “D”, won the fourth prize in the regional World Health Organization (WHO) art competition organized to mark World Health Day.

Under the slogan “Health for All”, UNRWA preparatory school students from across the Gaza Strip were encouraged to participate in the WHO art competition from 10 January to 4 March. UNRWA submitted 60 drawings by students from Gaza to the WHO Regional Office in Egypt where a panel of judges selected the winning drawings.

“I could not have been happier when WHO called to tell me that I had won the fourth prize at the level of the Middle East and the first prize in Palestine. Through my drawing, I highlighted everyone’s right to health services. Without the health services provided by UNRWA, Palestine refugees in Gaza would suffer, especially given the financial and economic hardship they face every day,” commented Manar Sami Atot.

On the occasion of World Health Day, UNRWA conducted eight awareness-raising sessions across the Gaza Strip on the topics of non-communicable diseases as well as dental, post-natal and maternal health. In addition, all UNRWA schools organized a series of events aimed at encouraging healthy life style habits, hygiene skills and a balanced diet during the month of April.

Throughout the year, school health teams and committees work to raise students’ and parents’ awareness of health issues and refer students to UNRWA Health Programme teams for comprehensive medical screening. Through 22 health centres, UNRWA in Gaza provides primary health care services to the majority of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, including clinical and laboratory services, maternal health and family planning advice, as well as monitoring and treatment of communicable diseases such as diarrhea, meningitis and mumps. Approximately one million patients are treated on a quarterly basis.

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’s emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. 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 approximately 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 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

10 April

11 April

12 April

13 April

14 April

15 April

16 April

17 April

18 April

19 April

20 April

21 April

22 April

23 April

Rafah

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Erez

Open

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian emergency cases

Closed.

Open.

Open

Open. For ambulances for emergency cases

Open for ambulances and emergency cases only.

Open for ambulances and emergency cases only.

Open for ambulances and emergency cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Kerem Shalom

Closed.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Closed.

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