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Immediate need for food, health and psychosocial support for Palestinians sheltering at UNRWA schools in Gaza
Displaced by airstrikes, there are currently 65,000 displaced people in emergency UNRWA shelters, such as UNRWA Beach Elementary School, one of 59 shelters of its kind in Gaza. Fuel is set to run out on Friday and an estimated 800,000 people are currently without clean water.
The ongoing 14-year long blockade of Gaza causes for the continued lack of medicine and aid, while physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 transmission remains almost impossible amid the ongoing internal displacement caused by the latest airstrikes. Concerns have continued to mount over the deteriorating situation for Gaza residents, where power is only available for six to eight hours per day. This has disrupted the provision of healthcare and other basic services, including water, hygiene, and sanitation.
Spokesperson for UNRWA Tamara al-Rifai warns it could take years to repair the damage “Every time there is a conflict in Gaza, intense air bombardment pulverises basic infrastructure, homes, hospitals and factories,” she said, “It then takes UNRWA and aid agencies several years to rehabilitate their premises and many homes and livelihoods of Gazans are never rebuilt.”
In addition to the airstrikes, the displacement and the psychological trauma, there is also the added danger of the spread of COVID-19 among those seeking shelter. As the conflict has forced the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Gaza to stop, Palestinians in Gaza are at more risk than ever. Despite the preparedness of UNRWA staff and UNRWA facilities in providing shelter in conflict, UNRWA now also contends with the unprecedented circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic which requires additional measures to be taken.
UNRWA has launched a US$ 38 million Flash Appeal for Gaza and the West Bank to provide immediate food, non-food, health, psychosocial, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and emergency response capacity needs and to carry out essential emergency interventions during the hostilities in Gaza.
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