Gaza Emergency: Daily Situation Report

11 September 08:00hrs – 14 September 08:00hrs | issue 60
The next update will be issued on Thursday, 18 September 2014

Highlights

·20 UNRWA school buildings continue to serve as Collective Centres for more than 62,600 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

·On 14 September UNRWA opened 252 schools in 130 UNRWA buildings and eight government buildings so that approximately 241,000 children could commence the 2014/2015 school year. In a visit to Gaza to mark this momentous occasion, UNRWA Commissioner General, Pierre Krähenbühl, visited the opening of a school in Khan Younis, towards the south of Gaza. He delivered short remarks that included recognition of the active coordination with the Ministry of Education, and other partners including UNICEF, UNESCO and NRC, that enabled schools to open after 50 days of brutal conflict and massive destruction. He also took the time to honour the memory of the 500 children killed in Gaza since 8 July and remember the estimated 3,000 injured children. Over 80 UNRWA schools have been damaged since 8 July, and 91 served as shelters for almost 300,000 IDPs. This was about six times more than the numbers during the conflict of 2008/9. Also, on seven occasions UNRWA schools were hit by shells or other weapons during the conflict. Learning from experiences in other conflict environments, UNRWA’s education department in Gaza has taken certain special measures for this delicate phase. Nine out of ten schools will operate on a double-shift basis and there will be three phases of education: a week of psycho-social work, several weeks of learning activities and then a transitional period into a resumption of the normal curriculum. On day one of a new school year, the Commission General said: “The school children of Gaza must not only be given the opportunity of returning to school but, the day they graduate, they should enjoy the same freedoms and employment opportunities as is the case in many parts of the world. This requires addressing the underlying causes of the occupation and the blockade and, I repeat, my call for it to be lifted so that the future of the children of Gaza may be one of promise, of respect of rights and of dignity.”

·UNRWA’s shelter assessment of Palestinian homes continued and already almost 200 homes have been assessed across the Gaza Strip. Engineers have begun to gather information and it is expected that assistance packages for those with minor damage, who can use material available on the local market – such as window and doors – can be provided quickly.

·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.

·UNRWA’s emergency declaration is still in place and its Collective Centre Management Unit continues to operate from Gaza City. Emergency Operations Rooms in the five governorates remain fully functioning.

·504 Palestinian children are confirmed killed during the 50 day war. The cumulative death toll among Palestinians is at least 2,152, 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

Operational Environment: The situation in Gaza remains tense as the fourth week of the current ceasefire commenced. There is great uncertainty regarding what the future will hold and any decisions being made ahead of the reconstruction conference due to be held in Cairo on October 12. Civil unrest remains a significant threat and IDPs in the Middle Area have continued demonstrating against attempts to consolidate shelters. The consolidation process of UNRWA shelters is required so that buildings can be made available for school.

UNRWA’s response

PHOTO ESSAY: 241,000 children head back to UNRWA schools; commence new school year in Gaza

As part of the Agency’s recognition that education is fundamental to helping each child achieve his or her full potential, UNRWA is committed to provide quality education. Following a delay of almost three weeks due to the ongoing emergency, 252 UNRWA schools have opened their doors for 241,000 students in order to commence the new school year.

On 14 September, Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl visited the Gaza Strip to celebrate the start of the new school year. During his visit, he attended an opening ceremony held at the Abu Tue'ma school in Khan Younis and shared words of encouragement and inspiration with the children of Gaza.

The Agency is committed to supporting the children of Gaza in returning to school. As part of its innovative three-phase “back to school” approach, 7,800 UNRWA teachers received training in order to provide psychosocial support to children in the classroom, as well as address their own psychosocial needs.

Lower elementary teacher Suhair El Baz works at Asma Elem Co-Ed school. She affirms: “We invest tremendous efforts to help get children back on track through implementation of the psychosocial support training. I notice students are responding in a good way and are interactive at school. I expect that vast majority of students will return to normal learning, in time and in accordance with the three-phase plan.”

One of the students returning to school is Sara. She is a 9 year old student in the third grade. On being back at school, she says: “I love being at school and to be out of the sadness at home, which reminds me of the loss of my 11 year old brother Asad. During the war we evacuated our home and moved in with relatives. He took his doves with him and when he climbed to the roof to water them, he was killed by shrapnel due to shelling of a neighbouring house. I enjoy the recreational activities at school.”

UNRWA’s counselling and support provided to teachers, parents and students will continue throughout the school year. This includes diversified teaching styles, opportunities to work in groups and peer support for teachers and other educationalists. Children will further benefit from multimedia platforms such as UNRWA TV and the Interactive Learning Programme (ILP). In addition, creative activities such as theatre for development are also part of the three-phase back to school programme.

·Between Thursday 11 September and Sunday 14 September (excluding Friday), UNRWA continued to deliver truckloads of non food items and food to Collective Centres. This food support to is provided in cooperation with WFP.

·UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued daily water distribution to the shelters. 1,134 cubic metres of potable water were trucked on 11, 12 and 13 September. In addition to potable water, 917 cubic metres of non-potable water were trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the shelters. 142 cubic metres of washing water were trucked to former shelters for the cleaning of the school buildings with school resuming on the 14th of September.

·On 11, 13 and 14 September, all 21 Health Centres continued to serve refugees and non-refugees. A total of 60,144 people visited the doctor at UNRWA Health Clinics and 4,308 had appointments with the dentist.

·Between 11 and 14 September, a total of 1,004 of waste were removed from all of Gaza’s 8 camps.

·Between 11 and 14 September, the 11 water wells in Jabalia Camp (6), Beach Camp (3), Khan Younis Camp (1) and Rafah (1) supplied 34,805 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 is attached to this daily report and can be downloaded here

Crossings
· Rafah crossing was open for humanitarian cases and international visa holders.
· Erez crossing was open on 11 and 14 September for National ID holders (humanitarian cases and merchants) and international staff. On 12 September it was open for medical cases and pedestrians only. It was closed on 13 September.
· Kerem Shalom was open.

Background

Following the escalation in violence between Gaza and Israel in November 2012 an understanding was reached between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Egypt. 2013 was subsequently the quietest year in a decade, in terms of hostilities between Israel and Gaza. Events in 2014, however, have led to a profound deterioration in the situation.

On 8 July 2014, UNRWA declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip in response to escalating violence between Israel and Hamas. Until the 26 August ceasefire, civilian displacement and fatalities reached unprecedented levels.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza entered its 8th year in June 2014 and continues to have a devastating effect as access to markets and people’s movement to and from the Gaza Strip remain severely restricted. The economy and its capacity to create jobs has been devastated, with the majority of the population becoming dependent on humanitarian aid to meet basic needs. The number of Palestine refugees relying on UNRWA for food aid has increased from fewer than 80,000 in 2000 to over 830,000 today.

Gaza: Facts and Figures

· 1.2 million refugees out of 1.7 million total population
· 8 refugee camps
· Over 12,500 staff
· 245 schools in 156 school buildings for more than 230,000 students
· 21 health centres
· 16 relief and social services offices
· 12 food distribution centres for more than 830,000 refugees
· Living under a tightened land and sea blockade since 2007
· Shattered local economy
· Long standing restrictions on movement of people and goods led to a de-development of Gaza
· Potentially unlivable place by 2020

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight.

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