UNRWA Situation Report #79 on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem

Monday, February 19, 2024

All information from 15–17 February 2024, is valid as of 17 February 2024 at 22:30 

Days 132-134 of Hostilities  



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Key Points  

The Gaza Strip 

  • Increased airstrikes in Rafah have heightened fears that they will further hamper overstretched humanitarian operations. Nearly 1.5 million people are in Rafah, more than six times the population in comparison with before 7 October.
  • Intense fighting in and around Khan Younis (southwest of Gaza) over the last four weeks is causing loss of life and damage to civilian infrastructure, including UNRWA’s largest shelter in the southern area, the Khan Younis Training Centre (KYTC). This is forcing thousands of Palestinians to flee further south towards Rafah, which is severely overcrowded. At the same time, population movements out of Rafah and towards Deir Al Balah and Nuseirat refugee camps in the Middle Area have been reported, following intensified airstrikes on Rafah.
  • Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis continues to be besieged by Israeli tanks. There reportedly are 10,000 displaced people within the hospital’s premises, including 300 medical personnel. On 16 February, Ministry of Health reported that five ICU patients had died due to a lack of oxygen supplies and a number of people who were relocated to a building within Nasser Hospital premises had no  food, water or baby formula.   
  • The number of trucks entering Gaza remains well below the target of 500 per day, with significant difficulties in bringing supplies in through both Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) and Rafah. The Food Security Cluster reported that a consistent food supply to serve the entire population continues to be hindered by frequent border closures. 
  • According to OCHA, since the start of 2024 until 12 February, 51% of missions planned by UNRWA and humanitarian partners to deliver aid and undertake assessments to areas north of Wadi Gaza were denied access by the Israeli authorities. According to the Food Security Cluster, food insecurity north of Wadi Gaza has reached an extremely critical state, given significant restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian assistance. 
  • In the period between 21 October and 14 February, people received 25,056 metric tons (MT) of flour, including 15,364 from UNRWA.
  • In the same period, UNRWA delivered to the Gaza Strip:
    • Medicines and medical supplies for a total value of more than US$ 6.8 million.
    • Over 22 million litres of water.
    • 2.7 million units of biscuits and high energy biscuits.
    • Nearly 6.8 million cans of protein-based food, including beans and canned meat.
    • Over 6.5 million units of dairy items (cheese).
    • Other food items including dates and juice.
    • Non-food items (NFI) including nearly 136,000 mattresses104,000 family hygiene kits; over 3.1 million diapers; approximately 185,000 blankets; and over 3.7 million cleaning supply items.
  • As of 17 February, the total number of UNRWA colleagues killed since the beginning of hostilities is now 158.
  • As of 17 February, up to 1.7 million* people (over 75 per cent of the population) ** have been displaced across the Gaza Strip, some multiple times.*** Families are forced to move repeatedly in search of safety. Following intense Israeli bombardments and fighting in Khan Younis and the Middle Area in recent days, a significant number of displaced people have moved further south. 

 

*This includes one million individuals residing in or near emergency shelters or informal shelters. As of 12 October, approximately 160,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were recorded in North Gaza and Gaza governorates. The ability of UNRWA to provide humanitarian support and updated data in these areas has been severely restricted. The ongoing hostilities, evacuation orders issued by Israeli Forces, and the constant need for safer locations have resulted in people being displaced multiple times.

**UNRWA reported in Situation Report 64 that up to 1.9 million IDPs were either residing in 154 UNRWA shelters or near these shelters. Due to the continued escalation of fighting and evacuation orders, some households have moved away from the shelters where they were initially registered.

*** There are instances where the same IDPs are registered in multiple shelters due to the fluid movement of populations; hereafter, estimates are used for these shelters. UNRWA plans to conduct a more accurate count of IDPs in shelters, including informal shelters, as soon as the security situation allows. 

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem 

The next West Bank update will be published 20 February 2024

  • UNRWA social workers provide psychosocial and social support to displaced children in Khan Younis, Southern Area, Gaza Strip, February 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Mohamed Hinnawi
    UNRWA social workers provide psychosocial and social support to displaced children in Khan Younis, Southern Area, Gaza Strip, February 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Mohamed Hinnawi

 

Overall Situation 

The Gaza Strip

  • According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza as of 16 February, at least 28,775 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since 7 October. About 70 per cent of those killed are reported to be women and children. Another 68,552 Palestinians have been reportedly injured. 

 

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem

  • According to OCHA, between 7 October 2023–16 February 2024, 389 Palestinians, including 100 children, have been killed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
  • Last year (2023) was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the UN began recording casualties in 2005.

Humanitarian Access, Protection of Civilians 

The Gaza Strip

  • UNRWA is working to verify the details of incidents reportedly affecting UNRWA premises. Further information will be provided once it becomes available. 
  • Different incidents have been reported impacting UNRWA installations and IDPs sheltering there. While verification of details and casualty figures remain ongoing, initial reports indicate:
  1. On 17 December 2023, a health centre in Gaza City reportedly sustained severe damages as a result of different strikes from air and from land.
  • 322* incidents impacting UNRWA premises and the people inside them have been reported since the beginning of the war (including multiple incidents impacting the same locations), including at least 45 incidents of military use and/or interference at UNRWA premises. 153 different UNRWA installations have been impacted.  
  • UNRWA estimates that in total at least 396* IDPs sheltering in UNRWA shelters have been killed and at least a further 1,383* injured since the start of the war. UNRWA is still verifying the number of casualties caused by incidents that impacted its installations, and notes that these figures do not include some reported casualties where the number of injuries could not be determined. 

 

* Numbers are subject to change once further verifications have been conducted.

UNRWA Response  

The Gaza Strip  

Due to the security situation in combination with interruptions in internet connectivity we are unable to provide any additional updates since Sitrep 75.  

UNRWA Shelters 

  • As of 17 February, a  total of nearly 1.7 million displaced people are now sheltering across emergency shelters (UNRWA and public shelters), informal sites or in the close vicinity of UNRWA shelters and distribution sites and within host communities. 

    Due to the security situation and ISF evacuation orders, between 150-155 UNRWA installations continue to shelter IDPs. Shelters are very congested.  

  

Health 

  • As of 13 February, seven (out of 23) UNRWA health centres were operational. Of these, one is in the north, two are in Middle Area, one in Khan Younis and three are in Rafah.
  • A total of 642 health care staff remain working in the seven operational health centres and on 13 February they provided 13,415 medical consultations.
  • A further 9,908 medical consultations were conducted by staff at shelters, and at the newly established medical points in Mawasi area to serve an influx of displaced persons from Khan Younis -- the total registered population in Mawasi is currently 180,000.
  • As of 13 February, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services were continuing  in the Middle and Khan Younis areas with teams of health professionals consisting of psychiatrists and three supervisors to assist special cases referred from health centres and shelters. The teams responded to 1,251 cases in Health Centres and 52 in medical points through individual consultations, awareness sessions, and support for GBV cases.  
  • In early January UNRWA received vaccines from UNICEF for its health centres. Eleven different types of vaccines were received (refrigerated and freezer storage). This allowed for vaccinations to restart. Between 3 January and 3 February, over 22,300 children were vaccinated against diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella, and others.  On 13 February an additional 996 children were vaccinated.  

 

Psychosocial support (PSS)

  • UNRWA continues to provide psychosocial support services including psychosocial first aid services, PSS consultations and intervention sessions, sessions on handling psychological fatigue, and group and recreational activities. Since the war, over 139,000 IDPs have been supported.

 

Food Security

  • As of 14 February, UNRWA continued to distribute flour outside of shelters in the southern governorates. A total of 368,745 families have been reached so far.

 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Due to the security situation in combination with internet connectivity we are unable to provide any additional updates since sitrep 67. 


Quote from Youssef, support counselor at an UNRWA school in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Middle Area:

“People cannot buy any supplies due to their lack [of availability], and even if they are available, they are expensive. We thank UNRWA for the services it provides to people, and we call on everyone to redouble their efforts so that aid continues to reach everyone.”

 

#HearTheirVoices  

 

ENDs -  


 

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UNRWA social workers provide psychosocial and social support to displaced children in Khan Younis, Southern Area, Gaza Strip, February 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Mohamed Hinnawi