Gaza Situation Report 59

11 September 2014
Gaza Situation Report 59

8 September, 0800hrs – 11 September, 0800hrs | issue 59

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 26 UNRWA school buildings continue to serve as Collective Centres for more than 65,700 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The number of IDPs in UNRWA schools remains higher than the number sheltered during the peak of the hostilities from 27 December 2008 to 19 January 2009.
  • As the ceasefire continues to hold, UNRWA has been able to focus on early recovery activities and in particular shelter damage assessments. In partnership with the National Consensus Government’s Ministry of Public Works and UNDP, the Agency has commenced a joint shelter assessment process of damaged homes in the Gaza Strip and agreed a common transitional shelter assistance support package. The assessments andassistance packages will help facilitate a transition period for internally displaced persons currently taking refuge in UNRWA schools and elsewhere. All affected families in Gaza will be assessed over the next 60 to 90 days, including refugees and non-refugees. Beneficiaries do not need to apply for assessments and assistance as has occurred after previous wars; assessments of all damaged homes will be undertaken simultaneously in all five areas of the Gaza Strip. There will be an opportunity for beneficiaries to appeal after assessments are complete. As a collaborative effort between Shelter Cluster members, the National Consensus Government, UNRWA and UNDP, the following assistance packages will be offered to families whose homes are assessed as uninhabitable:
    • Rental Subsidy and Host Family Support Package: This builds on existing programmes already being implemented in Gaza. Upon verification of eligibility, families with uninhabitable homes will receive one of the following amounts per month based on family size. Those with 1 – 5 family members receive USD 200 per month; families of 6 – 10 people receive USD 225 per month; and those with more than 10 family members receive USD 250 per month.
    • Reintegration Package: This one-time support is for all the estimated 20,000 families with uninhabitable homes and is in the amount of USD 500. It is intended for non-food items to help get a family back on their feet.
  • On 9 September, the Multi-Cluster/Agency Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) findings report was published. UNRWA participated in the assessment conducted on 13, 18 and 19 August, under the coordination of OCHA. The aim of the exercise was to gather baseline information on the needs arising from the military escalation and to inform the humanitarian response. A 400-point questionnaire was developed and the assessment teams, drawn from the relevant clusters, UN agencies, NGOs, and line ministries visited all five governorates and 25 municipalities in Gaza. The list of informants included community leaders, NGOs, CBOs, mayors, teachers, youths, IDPs, health experts, and representatives from the electricity and water utilities. Findings cover protection concerns, humanitarian space, health, IDPs, education, food security, shelter and non food items and water, sanitation and hygiene. The full MIRA Report can be read here.
  • Pre-back to school activities were a key focus for the Agency over the past three days, with 252 UNRWA schools for 241,000 students expected to open on 14 September. As part of the Agency’s commitment to support the children of Gaza in returning to school and as a component of the innovative three-phase “back to school” approach, 7,800 UNRWA teachers continued to receive training in the provision of psychosocial support to students. Each teacher is receiving two days of training by counselors from the Agency’s Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP). Upon completion of the training, teachers will be better equipped to address children that may be affected by post traumatic stress, the ability to anticipate likely associated behaviours and to provide support to children through recreational activities. The training will also enable teachers to identify children who require referral to psychosocial counselors. Books and stationery are also being distributed for all education areas stores.
  • UNRWA’s emergency declaration is still in place and its Central Emergency Operations Room in Gaza City has been stood down, replaced by the Collective Centre Management Unit, to reflect increasing operational focus on early recovery programming. Emergency Operations Rooms in the five governorates remain fully functioning.
  • UNRWA is continuing assessments of its installations that were damaged during the 50 day war. UNRWA Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme (ICIP) teams have been visiting the damaged installations, assessing minor and severe damages since mid-July and as security permits. So far, an estimated 118 UNRWA installations have sustained damage during the conflict.
  • 503 Palestinian children are confirmed killed during the 50 day war. The cumulative death toll among Palestinians is at least 2,150, including 260 women, according to the continued collection of preliminary data by the Protection Cluster from various sources. It is reported that the cumulative Israeli fatality toll is 71, of whom 66 were soldiers and one civilian fatality was a child.

GENERAL 

Past 24 hours: Thirteen days after the announcement of the ceasefire, relative calm prevails in Gaza. On the morning of 8 September, the Israeli navy opened fire towards Palestinian boats, forcing them ashore. Whilst calm for calm continues between Gaza and Israel, civil unrest is a significant threat, and it is feared that anger might also turn against UNRWA and its staff. Displaced in the North are refusing to leave specific UNRWA schools and move to another shelter, unless the Agency agrees to an immediate comprehensive financial assistance package. The consolidation process of UNRWA shelters is required so that buildings can be made available for Sunday’s planned start of the school year. In the Middle Area, UN vehicles were blocked and anti-UNRWA leaflets were distributed near a shelter. The National Consensus Government, formally in place since 2 June 2014, is yet to resume effective power. Key issues remain unsolved, for example payments to former de facto government staff who continue reporting to work but have received no full salaries for over one year, and no salaries since March 2014.

UNRWA RESPONSE

After any armed conflict it is common for casualties and fatalities to continue to rise due to risky behaviour and environmental factors that can cause unexploded ordnances to detonate. The situation in Gaza is no different. According to recent UN assessments, Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) are widely dispersed in and around homes, public spaces and buildings throughout the Strip. It is estimated that more than 1,900 items have yet to be secured, including tank shells, missiles, aircraft bombs, and shrapnel. This high contamination of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) poses a major risk to the population, especially children.

As part of its continued humanitarian response work, UNRWA’s Safety and Security Department (SSD) is implementing ERW training to improve the safety and security of the Agency’s staff and communities in Gaza. Upon completion of the training, participants are equipped with knowledge on how to safely identify, mark and report ERW, through the mechanism of ‘recognize-retreat-report’. To date, 712 UNRWA staff have received the training. Social workers and engineers who are involved in the shelter assessment of damaged houses were the first to be taught.

The training aims to improve awareness of the dangers that ERW pose. It is also designed to help participants understand that UNRWA wants to make sure they are equipped and confident with the knowledge to safely conduct their work in a volatile atmosphere.

The ERW training is being provided by Karly Kupferberg, an UNRWA ERW and Risk Education Manager. "This first round of training is unique as it targets frontline staff who will be working on the ground and helps them practice certain risk avoidance behaviour that they require in the field, as well as in their daily lives in Gaza,” said Karly. “Feedback from the trainees shows that even though participants have experienced a lot of conflicts in Gaza they are not aware of how dangerous certain types of behaviors are and are very thankful towards the Agency for making this a compulsory training before they carry out their work in the communities."

Ms. Kupferberg also stressed that it was crucial that participants convey what they have learned to their families for their safety as well.

One of the participants in the training is Ahmad Jawdat Ajour, a 28 year old civil engineer who is assisting with the shelter assessment of damaged houses throughout the Gaza Strip. "This training is really beneficial, informative and comprehensive; it provides us with clear instructions as to how to handle matters relating to ERW and unexploded ordnance,” said Ahmad. ‘Human beings instinctively avoid danger and risks, but this training really helps us to organize our thoughts and address the possible scenarios we might encounter in the field."   

UNRWA’s ERW training is not limited to social workers and engineers, and UNRWA aims to train all staff over the coming months. The goal is for all UNRWA personnel and communities in Gaza to benefit from the training.

“The Agency’s Safety and Security Division is organizing a wider awareness campaign for the community which currently involves animations and dramas on the dangers of ERW, broadcast on UNRWA TV and through community media channels,” said Karly. “This effort will be bolstered through awareness raising such as posters in all UNRWA schools and throughout UNRWA facilities explaining the “Do’s and Don’ts” regarding ERW.”

In addition to the awareness campaign, an ERW training of trainers will be provided to reach the wider community. When children are acclimated back to school there will also be a Risk Education training of teachers that will benefit students in UNRWA schools. The ERW training and related future activities are in line with the Agency’s ongoing effort to do what it can to provide a safe and secure working and living environment for all people in Gaza.


  • Between Monday 8 September and Wednesday 10 September, UNRWA continued to deliver truckloads of non food items and food to Collective Centres. The food support to Collective Centres is provided in cooperation with WFP.
  • UNRWA’s regular food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. On 8 September, food rations were provided to 3,270 families through UNRWA distribution centres. Distribution centres continue to remain open six days a week, with the exception of Friday when food commodities for the regular distribution is moved to the food distribution centres for the following week.
  • UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued daily water distribution to the Collective Centres over the past few days. Approximately 921 cubic metres of potable water were trucked between 8-10 September, which is equivalent to more than 4.5 litres of drinking water per person per day. In addition to potable water, 1,208 cubic metres of non-potable water were trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the Collective Centres. 187 cubic metres of washing water were trucked to former shelters for the cleaning of the school buildings with a view to the resumption of the next school year.  
  • The first phase of UNRWA’s anti-lice campaign in Collective Centres was completed during the reporting period. A total of about 4,000 pieces of lice shampoo were distributed to IDPs for which lice was detected and referred to medical focal points. The second phase of the anti-lice campaign will be distributed in coming days.  
  • Following the ceasefire, the Water and Hygiene Campaign had to establish new committees in the consolidated Collective Centres, as many displaced who were actively involved left. Forty-one IDP committees remain active, comprising 505 members. 436 awareness sessions were held among 14,569 IDPs, focusing on cleanliness, usage of cleaning materials, best practices in water use, how to keep food from being contaminated and how to treat lice and scabies and avoid other diseases related to hygiene conditions. A total of 849 persons were referred to medical focal points and 4,862 IDPs took part in cleaning campaigns.
  • On 8, 9 and 10 September, Health Centres continued to serve refugees and non-refugees.
  • Between 8 and 10 September, a total of 777 of waste were removed from all of Gaza’s 8 camps.
  • Between 8 and 10 September, the 11 water wells in Jabalia Camp (6), Beach Camp (3), Khan Younis Camp (1) and Rafah (1) supplied 26,880 cubic metres of water.

SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS

The ceasefire holds.

UNRWA INSTALLATIONS

Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 118 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.

FUNDING NEEDS

The revised flash appeal can be found here.

CROSSINGS

  • Rafah crossing was open for humanitarian cases and international visa holders.
  • Erez crossing was open for National ID holders (humanitarian cases and merchants) and international staff.
  • Kerem Shalom was open. 

UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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