Gaza Situation Report 226

01 July 2018
: UNRWA food basket ” © 2018 UNRWA Photo by  Khalil Adwan.

05 June  – 26 June 2018 | issue 226

Highlights

  • Half way through 2018, and due to its determined resource mobilization efforts, UNRWA has succeeded to maintain its operations across five fields and to reduce the initial budget shortfall of US$ 446 million by US$ 200 million. Taking into account the projected incomes and expenditures for Program Budget and both Emergency Appeals for Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, UNRWA’s projected shortfall before the UNRWA Annual Pledging Conference on June 25 amounted to US$ 256 million. For this reason, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl told officials from more than seventy UN Member States at the Annual Pledging Conference held at the UN Headquarters in New York that “at this point, we do not have income to ensure the schools will open on time in August” and that in the absence of significant new funding, “we will have to begin taking very difficult measures in July impacting the level of services, as well as our staff.”

    The Pledging Conference saw strong expressions of commitment to collective action in supporting UNRWA’s activities throughout 2018. There were also numerous pledges of financial support by UN Member States. Nevertheless, with the current cash flow forecast, the continuity of UNRWA operations will be at serious risk in August. UNRWA is currently analysing how much of that represents additional funding, the timing and allocation of contributions as well as other details.

    In Gaza, the funding status for emergency operations is especially acute. While UNRWA secured the funding to implement its third round of food assistance from July to September, other interventions, including the provision of food assistance in the fourth quarter, as well as staff positions financed through the Emergency Appeal are at risk. However, no final decisions have been taken, UNRWA’s management is committed to do its utmost in order to protect staff and services to refugees.

  • Following the meeting of the UNRWA Advisory Commission (AdCom) in Amman on 18-19 June, more than 20 delegates from nine countries visited Gaza on 20-21 June for a first-hand account of the current situation and UNRWA’s operations in Gaza. During the two-day visit, the delegation engaged with representatives of the Gaza Central School Parliament; received briefings on UNWRA health services and the community mental health programme, with a focus on the impact of the recent violence near the perimeter fence; met with patients, counsellors and health staff at el-Rimal Health Centre; interacted with TVET students, trainees and microfinance clients at the Gaza Training Centre; and met with civil society representatives to discuss different perspectives on Gaza. On the second day of the visit, AdCom representatives witnessed food distributions at the UNRWA Tuffah Distribution Centre; visited the Deir el-Balah Rehabilitation Centre for a briefing on support and employment opportunities to persons with special needs; toured the Southern Gaza Desalination Plan and received a briefing on water issues by UNICEF; and engaged in discussions with young start-up entrepreneurs and ICT graduates from GGateway and Gaza Sky Geeks. The visit highlighted the immense challenges faced by the people in Gaza – from blockade, widespread poverty and unemployment to lack of opportunities, especially for youth, collapsing public services, lack of electricity and unsafe water – the critical importance of UNRWA services in Gaza, and the creativity and potential of many in Gaza who, against all odds, remain motivated and determined to make the best out of their lives.

  • From 10 to 26 June, the Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP), through its Disability Programme in cooperation with the Jabalia Community-based Rehabilitation Centre (CBRC), conducted three training courses on sign language and teaching methodology for teachers working with deaf children. The trainings aimed to improve the services provided by the Centre by targeting teachers and the local community, exchanging experiences and knowledge among the participants, and presenting proper learning techniques for the teaching of persons with disability, including sign language. The aims to empower Palestine refugees, focusing on the most vulnerable groups, by meeting their social and economic needs through community social interventions. RSSP conducts a wide range of activities such as the poverty assessment for food assistance through social workers, in addition to a variety of skills training and capacity building mainly for women, children and youth, focusing on the social empowerment.

Operational Environment

  • Between 9 June and 24 June, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip on 10 occasions, forcing them ashore. No injuries were reported.

    Between 5 June and 25 June, Israeli forces positioned at the border fence and opened fire towards Palestinian areas on 25 occasions. Three injuries and one killed were reported.

    Between 5 June and 26 June, 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 and WHO, from 30 March until 18 June, 137 Palestinians were killed and some 14,800 were injured, including 3,943 by live ammunition gunshots. The total figure of fatalities includes 17 Palestinians (two of them children) killed in unclear circumstances during the 14 May demonstrations, as well as 16 Palestinians (including one child) killed since 30 March in contexts other than demonstrations; among the latter are five people whose bodies are being reportedly withheld by the Israeli authorities.

    Between 14 June and 21 June, Israeli Forces fired 52 missiles targeting militants’ training locations across the Gaza Strip in response to mortar shells fired by militants.

    On 14 June, a 18-year-old Palestinian man committed suicide by hanging himself inside his house in Jabalia Camp, northern Gaza Strip.

    On 16 June, a 21-year-old Palestinian man attempted to commit suicide by setting himself on fire in Gaza City.

    On 20 June, a 27-year-old Palestinian woman committed suicide by hanging herself inside her house in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip.

    On 20 June, a 21-year-old Palestinian man attempted to commit suicide by poisoning himself inside his house in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip.

UNRWA’s Response

The high unemployment rate in Gaza strip leaves outlook for Gaza’s youth bleak
26-year-old Yasser Al-Saied, Palestine refugee with his training, volunteering and graduation certificates at his home in Bureij camp, central Gaza Strip © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khaled Tuiema.
26-year-old Yasser Al-Saied, Palestine refugee with his training, volunteering and graduation certificates at his home in Bureij camp, central Gaza Strip © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khaled Tuiema.

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 first quarter of 2018, the average unemployment rate stood at 49.1 per cent, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In light of this unemployment rate, the outlook for Gaza’s youth is bleak.

26-year-old Yasser Al-Saied is a Palestine refugee who lives with his seven-member family in Bureij Camp, central Gaza Strip. Yasser, who holds a bachelor’s degree in media and public relations and is now pursuing graduate studies in international relations at Al-Aqsa University, Since his childhood, Yasser has been well known for his strong personality, self-confidence, popularity, leadership, and good persuasion skills. With his outgoing personality and interest in communications work and relationship-building, he decided to study public relations.

“When I was a student, I looked around me and saw most of my young relatives, neighbours and friends being unemployed, so I decided to start volunteering to gain some experience, knowledge and show initiative;” Yasser said. Yasser started volunteering when he began his university studies. He believes that even if he has not graduated yet, the volunteering experience can provide him with useful skills, knowledge, networking opportunities and a first exposure to his future work environment. 

“Although volunteering made me feel like a productive member of the community, this was not enough for me after I graduated, especially because I also wanted to be financially independent. I can’t spend my life being dependant on my father. I want to have my own source of income, so I started looking for paid work. However, due to high unemployment in Gaza, finding a job is very hard,” he added

Yasser is an active member of the community as he believes in the significant role youth can play in society. With his friends, he serves the community through several initiatives such as cleaning the streets, helping the elderly, cleaning the beach and recycling garbage. 

“My first paid job was as site manager during UNRWA’s summer fun weeks. No words could express my happiness at that moment when I got my first salary. When I graduated around four years ago, I worked for six months with a salary of 300$ per month. Before these six months, I spent over a year without work;” Yasser also added. “When I see my two sisters who are studying at university; I am worried about their future. In Gaza, good education unfortunately does not protect you from unemployment, and I don’t want them to go through what I faced. I hope the economic situation in Gaza will change soon so more and more youth will be able to find jobs,” he added.

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 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 Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers 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

05 June

06 June

07 June

08 June

09 June

10 June

11 June

12 June

13 June

14 June

15 June

16 June

17 June

18 June

Rafah

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open

Open.

Erez

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian & medical cases only.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian & medical cases only

Closed.

Open

Open.

Kerem Shalom

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

 

Crossing

19 June

20 June

21 June

22 June

23 June

24 June

25 June

Rafah

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Erez

Open

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian & medical cases only.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Kerem Shalom

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