Gaza Situation Report 228

28 July 2018
© 2018 UNRWA

10 July – 24 July 2018 | issue 228

Highlights

  • On 23 July, a statement by Sami Mshasha, the UNRWA Spokesperson was issued on the implications of funding shortfall on emergency services in oPt:

    “The complex and harsh challenges the Palestine refugee community has endured over the past decades are monumental. This year the challenges have grown, following the largest ever reduction in funding UNRWA has faced. The ability of Palestine refugees to persevere is hugely admired by many around the world who continue earnestly to express solidarity and support for them.  As we continue to pursue every avenue of support to overcome a severe financial crisis, UNRWA, its dedicated staff, and the refugees have only one option - to face up to this situation together and preserve the most important work we do.

    The decision of the US to cut $300 million in funding to UNRWA this year has been described by our Commissioner-General as an existential threat to UNRWA. Determined not to forsake Palestine refugees, UNRWA and its partners have mobilized political and financial support around the globe, to maintain its operations and render essential services to its beneficiaries with dignity and hope.

    Our emergency assistance is critically under-funded in the occupied Palestinian territory, where the US contribution for emergency programming  -- almost $100 million per year -- is no longer available and has forced us to take mitigating measures.

    In implementing these changes to its emergency interventions in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA’s humanitarian responsibility dictates that we give priority to refugees with the most critical needs. It dictates that we protect core services, including education, health and relief, via our staff members to the millions of Palestine refugees in need of such services. With the rolling out of these measures, a limited number of personnel (both area and international) will be affected.”

    On July 22, the Director of Gaza Operations informed senior staff, the local staff union and key external interlocutors of the latest developments captured in the above statement and of the implications for staff hired against now depleted emergency funds in that about 30 % would keep full – time jobs, approximately 60 percent would have to move to part time work and some 10 percent would unfortunately lose their employment.  As of the following morning the Local Staff Union has been organising protest action that have escalated into a stand-off.  As this report is going to press, management is exploring ways of overcoming the current blockages in access to offices and all internal services such as HR, Finance and IT becoming fully functional again.

  • From 15 to 18 July 2018, the UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) in Gaza held a capacity building training of trainers (ToT) course for around 15 fresh university-graduates. The training was held in the Women Programme Centre in the Beach Refugee Camp, one of the RSSP seven partner centres across the Gaza Strip. The four-day training was implemented by a number of trainers from the Woman Programme Centre and included several topics focusing on equipping the youth graduates with needed knowledge and skills to implement useful and successful training courses by using effective tools and methodologies. The training also focused on the management of discussion sessions, initiatives and workshops. The aim of the ToT course was to prepare the trainees theoretically and practically to be successful trainers as well as providing insights of how to run initiatives and workshops especially on topics related to the prevention of gender-based violence (GBV) and respect of women. The UNRWA field Relief and Social Services Programme maintains seven Women Programme Centres in refugee camps across the Gaza Strip. WPCs aim to empower women socially and economy and enhance women’s participation in the community through offering legal advice, skills-based trainings, for example in computer literacy, hair dressing, or traditional handicrafts and embroidery. The centres also try to assist illiterate women in entering the formal education system by providing education and literacy classes.
     
  • Child labour is a serious threat to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and development of children worldwide. It is a phenomenon with complex socio-economic causes, often sustained by inadequate protection systems. With poverty being the single most important driver of child work and child labour. The Child Labour project is an initiative of UNRWA Gaza Field Office (GFO) seeks to resolve or mitigate the protection concerns of children working around UNRWA distribution centres in the Gaza Strip. One hundred and thirty-eight of them, aged between seven and seventeen years old, were identified in the initial phase of the implementation. Following a thorough assessment of their individual cases by UNRWA Field Relief and Social Services/Social Intervention Unit, tailored intervention plans were drafted. Interventions included support classes and re-integration into school, ad hoc vocational training, small income generating projects for those families to whom the income of the child was vital, direct aid as school uniforms, and clothes. The project started in March 2017 and completed in May 2018. It was implemented by collaborative and inter-programme efforts, coordinated by the Operations Support Office, and to which GFO Logistic, Gaza Training Centre (GTC), Khan Younis Training Centre (KYTC), Education Programme, Relief and Social Services Programme and the Community Mental Health Programme contributed.
     
  • UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, Mr.  Matthias Schmale, visited Brussels - Belgium, in 12-13 July – upon an invitation by the new EU Austrian Presidency Chair of the EU Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid & Food Aid (COHAFA) to brief on Gaza and reflect on the growing concern about the situation in Gaza as well as the consequences of UNRWA’s financial situation in the Strip. During his mission, Mr. Schmale also briefed EU member states at the Mashreq/Maghreb Working Party (MAMA), in addition to meeting with Civil Society organisations and relevant EU services such as NEAR, ECHO, and EEAS, thanking them and EU member states for the continued political and substantial financial support of UNRWA to assist Palestine Refugees. He also strongly advocated for improved livelihoods conditions in Gaza including lifting the blockade and access restrictions, end of the energy crisis, enabling socio-economic recovery, stopping environment degradation, and halting acts of violence against the population.

Operational Environment

Between 10 July and 22 July, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip on 14 occasions, forcing them ashore. One injury was reported.

Between 10 July and 23 July, Israeli forces positioned at the border fence opened fire towards Palestinian areas on 20 occasions. One was killed and no injuries were reported..

Between 10 July and 23 July, 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, since the start of “Great Return March” on 30 March until 23 July, 155 Palestinians were killed and some 16,847 were injured.

Between 12 July and 22 July, Israeli Forces fired 136 missiles targeting militants training locations across the Gaza Strip in response to mortar shells fired by militants. 41 were injured and three were killed, two of them are children.

On 23 July, a Palestinian man attempted self-immolation by trying to burn himself outside Al-Fakhoura Health Center, in Jabalia area, northern Gaza Strip.

On 23 July, a Palestinian man attempted self-immolation by trying to burn himself at Jalaa Street area, in Gaza area.

On 12 July, the UNRWA Local Staff Union organized a gathering in front of the UNRWA Gaza Field Office in solidarity with staff funded under the UNRWA Emergency Appeal for the oPt whose jobs are at risk due to the Agency’s large financial shortfall for emergency interventions in the oPt. Approximately 800 persons participated in the event which lasted an hour and half

On 23 July, Emergency Programme Staff and Local Staff Union organized a gathering activity inside UNRWA GFO compound, west of Gaza city, and in front of the Office of Director, in solidarity with the Emergency Programme staff members whose jobs at UNRWA were affected due to the Agency’s large financial shortfall for emergency interventions in the oPt. At 1130hrs, the Emergency Programme staff in UNRWA organized a press conference outside UNRWA compound’s main gate. Hundreds of employees participated in the event.

UNRWA’s Response

The UNRWA Child Labour Project
“All children have the right to be protected”
Palestine refugee Abed Al-Rahim during his work in tiling. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
Palestine refugee Abed Al-Rahim during his work in tiling. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

Children can be seen at work in a variety of contexts in the Gaza Strip, most frequently helping with small family-run business, but often also engaged in child labour, in heavy and hazardous activities in construction, on fishing boats, as porters and garbage collectors. Child labour appears to be a coping mechanism for large families and those who have lost income or livelihoods or primary wage earners.

From March 2017 to July 2018, the UNRWA Gaza Field Office (GFO) initiated a project under the title “Child Labour Project” aimed to mitigate protection concerns of children working around UNRWA distribution centres in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA believes that all children have the right to be protected.

Palestine refugee Abed Al-Rahim used to work outside Beach Camp distribution centre as porter.  He and his two elder brothers are the breadwinners of their eight-member family.

Abed Al-Rahim said “I had to drop out from school when I was eleven years old to work and support my family, because my elder brothers work was not enough for our eight-member family,” Abed Al-Rahim also added “I met one of the area social work supervisors outside the distribution centre, he asked about my family expenses, after that, I engaged in six-month vocational training on tiling profession at the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre.”

The Project was jointly implemented and coordinated by various UNRWA offices and Programmes: Operations Support Office with the support from Logistic, Gaza and Khan Younis Training centres, Community Mental Health Programme and Relief and Social Service Programme (RSSP) and supported 138 children aged between 7 and 17 year old.

Abed Al-Rahim mentioned “After finishing my training, now I am under apprenticeship in local workshop with pocket money 140 $ monthly, I gained many skills through the training which will protect me in the future to have a decent source of income to support myself and my family,” Abed Al-Rahim also said “I can’t explain how much I am proud of myself and my achievements, now I dream to have my own workshop after being a porter without any skills. I hope all children around the world could have the chance of getting proper education and skills.”

The children were identified in the initial phase of implementation. Following a thorough assessment of their individual cases by RSSP’s Social Work Division, tailored intervention plans were then drafted. Interventions included individual and group sessions, home visits, referral inside/outside UNRWA, cash support, remedial classes for the Child Labour Project cases and their siblings, literacy classes, transportation, medical support, supporting 12th grade students with study fees, and re-integration into school, direct aid as school uniforms, clothes, ad hoc vocational training, as well as small income generating projects for those families to whom the income of the child was vital.

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. As reported above, the Agency ran out of Emergency Appeal funds at the end of June.  Every attempt is made to keep essential work going by prioritising the food distribution, downscaling other components such as community mental health and cash for for work (job creation) and advancing money from UNRWA‘s core budget.

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

10 July

11 July

12 July

13 July

14 July

15 July

16 July

17 July

18 July

19 July

20 July

21 July

22 July

23 July

Rafah

Open

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

open only to enter food and medicines trucks. 

Erez

Open.

Open.

Open.

open for humanitarian and medical cases only.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

open for humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Kerem Shalom

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

open for entering food items and medicines only.

open for entering food items and medicines only

open for entering food items and medicines only

Closed.

 

 

 

Closed.

open for entering food items and medicines only

open for entering food items and medicines only

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