28 August 2014 | Issue No. 51
The number of IDPs staying in UNRWA shelters is 52,235. 60 shelters remain open. Over the next couple of days UNRWA is expecting the IDP numbers to stabilize. It is still premature to draw conclusions regarding the number of IDPs who would opt to remain in UNRWA shelters for a longer period of time as their homes are uninhabitable, and those that may be able to return to their homes or seek alternative shelter options, such as staying with host families.
The European Union welcomed the ceasefire, noting that “a sustainable agreement should address all the root causes of the conflict and bring fundamental change to the situation in Gaza. The socio-economic conditions should be improved by ending the Gaza closure regime. The Palestinian government of national consensus, under the leadership of President Abbas, should exercise effective administration of the Gaza Strip. Hamas and other militant groups must stop all threats to Israel. A durable peace can only be achieved through the resumption of the Middle East peace process, leading to a two state solution.” The statement also confirms that the European Union was ready to contribute to a lasting solution.
The cumulative death toll among Palestinians is at least 2,104, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, including 377 persons who could not yet be identified or their status established. Of the initially verified cases, 1,462 are believed to be civilians, including 495 children and 253 women, and 265 members of armed groups. Approximately 25 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel have reportedly been killed in Gaza by armed groups since 21 August. They are not included in the above death toll.
Past 24 hours: Hamas staged two rallies in Gaza City and in Shejaya, East Gaza City, reportedly attended by thousands of people claiming victory over Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also claimed victory over Hamas, reportedly saying that Israel did not agree to accept any of Hamas' demands.
UNRWA health services are an essential lifeline for Palestinians, providing primary health care and referral to secondary and tertiary services. During times of emergency, UNRWA health services are extended to all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. On average, some 70 per cent of UNRWA health staff continued reporting to work, including at the height of hostilities, risking their lives and leaving their own families to provide health care to Palestinians in need of assistance. The commitment of UNRWA health staff to continue serving Palestinians even during the most difficult days of the conflict is highly commendable.
One of UNRWA’s dedicated health staff is Dr. Kefah El Najjar. She lives in Gaza City and commuted to the Health Center in her car to work as Senior Medical Officer in Jabalia in the North of the Gaza Strip. Dr. El Najjar stated, with tears in her eyes, that during the emergency she was scared every day: “When I left my house, I prayed to God that I can reach the Health Center safely. While at work, I prayed to God to save my family at home. My kids tried to stop me from coming to work every day. Still many patients came to my health center, so of course I continued coming to work.”
Since the start of the military escalation, UNRWA Health Centers (HCs) in Gaza have recorded, as of 27 August, 566,150 patient visits. Patient visits since the start of the conflict include 43,039 maternal health care visits; 60,480 child visits, such as for example for immunizations; and 74,475 visits by people with non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes; and 388,156 visits to seek medical care for acute and common illnesses. The daily average of visits during the military escalation is almost 13,500, which is only just below the pre-conflict average. The ability of UNRWA staff to maintain this standard of health service delivery is even more remarkable when considering that most of the time only 14 out of 21 health centers were functional the others closed due to insecurity in the area.
In order to improve surveillance to prevent large-scale outbreaks of diseases and to facilitate access to health services by the displaced, health teams were put in place in each designated emergency shelter. These teams have played an important role in detecting health issues, treating patients in the shelters or referring them to local health centers and hospitals. The health teams in the shelters compile a daily health surveillance report, including 16 health issues of concern. Included is bloody diarrhea, diarrhea for under/above 5 years old, typhoid fever, acute viral hepatitis, cholera suspected/confirmed, measles, scabies, impetigo, lice, acute flaccid paralysis, viral meningitis suspected/confirmed, acute respiratory infection and mumps. Thanks to the efforts of health teams in the shelters, who complement the work of the hygiene and water focal points, there have been no large scale outbreaks of public health issues in the designated emergency shelters, despite significant risks due to severe overcrowding and water shortages, particularly in the beginning of the emergency. Of particular concern in the shelters is scabies and pediculosis, but there was for example zero incidence for measles. Thanks to improved health care in the shelters, which for example includes treatment of lice and scabies, the numbers of displaced coming to UNRWA health centers decreased substantively to 8 per cent as of 27 August.
As of yesterday 27 August, 7 out of 21 health centers remained closed. For the first time, all of UNRWA health staff were able to report to work, and 13,669 patients were served.
In partnership with WFP and the Ministry of Social Affairs, UNRWA continued the exceptional food distribution to all families not currently receiving regular food aid from the two agencies. Since 11 August 111,627 of the eligible 143,000 families received a 30kg ration of flour and a 10kg ration of rice, representing 78 per cent of the total eligible families. On 26 August, 4,194 rations were distributed through UNRWA’s food distribution centres. It is planned the exceptional food distribution will continue until Monday, 1 September, including for the resolution of any pending appeals.
UNRWA’s regular food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 3,995 families through UNRWA distribution centers.
UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued tankering water to the shelters. As IDPs are leaving the shelters, deliveries of water were reduced as in many shelters water tanks remained full. Over the course of yesterday, 631 cubic meters of potable water were trucked to the shelters. Water focal points in the shelters conduct chlorine testing of all tankered potable water. This includes testing of the water tankers and the water tanks installed in the shelters to ensure the delivered water is chlorinated with free residual chlorine. Tanks are also regularly cleaned. In addition to this, sanitation focal points ensure water quality in the shelters through daily controls of free residual chlorine testing of water tanks and supplier tankers during daily visits. Moreover, water quality is checked at desalination plants to ensure water quality of any contracted suppliers meets the recommended standard emergency specifications. In addition to drinking water, 830 cubic meters of non-potable water were trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the shelters. UNRWA is also continuing preparations for long-term shelters for families who are unable to return to a home.
UNRWA also continued to provide its logistics capacity to supply fuel to municipalities, water, sanitation and health facilities through the WASH and Health clusters (led by UNICEF and WHO). 25,116 liters were delivered to WHO.
The ceasefire holds.
Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 110 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.
More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here.
The Kerem Shalom crossing was open.