The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) works to deliver quality education, health and relief and support services programming to 1.5 million refugees in Gaza. Depleted by blockade and cycles of violence, Gaza’s socioeconomic situation continues to decline, leaving 80% of people dependent on humanitarian assistance. Children are greatly affected by the conflict, some of whom are more vulnerable than others, including orphans, children living in poverty, and children with disabilities. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), there are around 48,000 persons with disabilities in Gaza of whom 1/5th are children.
In line with UNRWA human development goals and strategic objectives, the project intervention to support vulnerable children in Gaza was designed to support the Agency’s goal that “refugees lead a long and healthy life, are knowledgeable, have a decent standard of living and enjoy human rights,” by supporting the emotional and social wellbeing of vulnerable children and their caregivers through a mix of cash assistance and other services. Starting in 2015, through funding provided by Islamic Relief USA, the Relief and Social Services Programme expanded its support to orphans and their guardians. Over a five year period, nearly 3,000 children a year were provided with cash assistance of $600 alongside capacity building activities geared toward 16 to 18 year olds, and female guardians to boost employability skills. The project’s initial focus on orphans was expanded to support children with disabilities, increasing from 19 children with disabilities in 2015 to 671 in the 2021 project iteration (accounting for 23% of the project participants).
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