Gaza Situation Report 199

24 June 2017
©UNRWA Gaza 2017. Photo by Tamer Hamam.

13 June – 19 June 2017 | issue 199

Highlights

  • The Gaza Strip faces regular power cuts and provision of electricity remains well below demand. The cuts affect critical services like health, waste water treatment as well as education, homes and businesses. To maintain a minimum level of continuity of critical services, providers are now relying heavily on back-up generators. For more information read a factsheet issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory under the name “Humanitarian Impact of the Gaza Electricity Crisis”. Electricity blackouts in Gaza last between 8-12 hours each day and have sometimes even reach 20 hours straight. On a good day, Gaza’s electrical grid supplies 208 megawatts, this supply falls far below demand, which is currently 350 to 450 Megawatts. Families in Gaza are forced to spend a large part of their income on energy, whether the meager supply of electricity they receive through high voltage lines, or on the cost of fuel, generators and their repair.On 14 June, Mr. Robert Piper, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestine territory issued a statement on the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza where he warned about the disastrous consequences of a further reduction in electricity-supply to the Gaza Strip on the living conditions of two million Palestinians in Gaza. To read the full statement, click here.  For more information about the situation in Gaza, read United Nations report in 2012 “Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?”

  • UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, visited Brussels- Belgium and Strasbourg – France, from 13-15 June - to brief the EU Institutions and EU Member States on the situation in Gaza and UNRWA operations. During his mission, he met with Mr. Michael Koehler, Director of Neighborhood South in the European Commission Directorate General for the Neighborhood and Enlargement negotiations - DG NEAR, Mr. Colin Scicluna, Deputy Managing Director and Director for the MENA region in the European External Action Service, Mr. Hervé Delphin, Head of Middle East Unit in ECHO, and thanked them for the EU’s support of UNRWA to assist Palestine Refugees. In addition, Mr. Schack also had an exchange of views with the European Parliament (EP) delegation for relations with Palestine (DPAL) on “ten years of blockade on Gaza” and met with members of the EP Budget Committee ahead of their visit to Palestine. He also met with several departments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation in the Belgium Government.

  • To help alleviate the dire economic situation for Palestine Refugee families, and provide them a source of income, dignity and self-reliance the UNRWA Job Creation Programme (JCP) commenced two projects targeting the agriculture sector: together providing 214 job opportunities. The beneficiaries of the projects provide assistance to farmers in collecting crops, weeding and planting. Through its Job Creation Programme, UNRWA works to mitigate the impact of the collapsed Gaza economy and labour market by providing work opportunities for Palestine refugees. In the first quarter of 2017, UNRWA created skilled and unskilled job opportunities for 9,092 beneficiaries through JCP, injecting US$ 4.6 million into the Gaza economy. If sufficient funding is made available, UNRWA hopes to offer short-term employment opportunities for approximately 53,193 Palestine refugees living below the poverty line in 2017.

  • On 13 June, a Finnish delegation visited UNRWA Gaza Field Office. The five-member delegation- accompanied by UNRWA’s Operations and Support Office (OSO) - visited Al- Fakhora health centre and Jabalia camp, northern Gaza strip. They then met with the UNRWA Deputy Director of Operations in Gaza, Ms. Melinda Young, who briefed them about the situation and the operations in Gaza. At the end of the visit, the delegation visited a family from north area who have benefited from the UNRWA shelter reconstruction project.

Operational Environment

  • During the reporting week, several protests were held across the Gaza Strip against the blockade. Eight injuries were reported.

    Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of Gaza city, forcing them ashore. Five injuries were reported.

    Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) positioned at the security fence in different locations opened fire towards Palestinian areas on two days during the reporting period. No injuries were reported.

    A sit-in organized by the Hamas Women’s Movement took place in front of Palestinian Legislative Council office, west of Gaza city, in support of state of Qatar and in condemnation of the boycott against to Qatar.  Approximately, 100 people participated in the sit-in.

    Four IDF bulldozers entered Gaza, to approximately 50 metres, east of Beit Hanoun area near Erez crossing, where they conducted a clearing and excavation operation. The IDF troops then withdrew to the security fence.

UNRWA’s Response

Women’s Programme Centres:
building up the confidence and self-reliance of Palestine refugee women

Thirty–year-old Mervat Aloosh baking ka’ak in Beach Women’s Programme Centre in Beach camp, western Gaza Strip. Photo credit: ©UNRWA Gaza 2017. Photo by Tamer Hamam.
Thirty–year-old Mervat Aloosh baking ka’ak in Beach Women’s Programme Centre in Beach camp, western Gaza Strip. Photo credit: ©UNRWA Gaza 2017. Photo by Tamer Hamam.

To assist in the empowerment of Palestine refugee women, facilitate the building of their networks and to strengthen their role and active participation in the community, UNRWA’s Relief and Social Services Programme contributes to seven independent Women’s Programme Centres (WPC) in the eight official refugee camps in Gaza.

Thirty-year-old Mervat Aloosh, a Palestine refugee woman who lives with her family in the Beach camp, western Gaza city, has been a regular visitor to the Beach Women’s Programme Centre for two years.

“Two years ago, my friends told me about the Women’s Programme Centre, I started by learning sewing and I enjoyed the course very much. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to complete my university studies, I took a variety of training courses through the Centre on cooking, marketing and sewing. The Centre provided me with a good opportunity to learn, build new relations and friends and become more self-confidant” Mervat said.

The Women’s Programme Centres support Palestine refugee women through cultural and recreational activities. The Centres also offers a wide range of integrated services to enhance the knowledge and capabilities of women, such as skills training and education.  These services are delivered by seven Women’s Programme Centers (WPCs) across the Gaza Strip.

“I participated in many activities organized by the Beach Women’s Programme Centre including psychological support sessions, and gender-based violence awareness sessions. The activity I liked the most was about women’s rights as I never knew before about my inheritance rights. This made me feel more comfortable and self-aware of my rights and duties in the community” Mervat added.

As many orders of “Ka’ek”- a traditional festive dessert made in Eid marking the end of Ramadan - were received through the Centre’s Facebook page, the participants, along with the Centre’s management, came up with idea of making Ka’ak and selling it for profit.

Mervat said: “Every day we prepare an average of 80 to 100 kilos, upon request. The Beach Women’s Programme Centre provides us with the place, tools and raw materials. Our work doesn’t stop after the Eid season, there are always cooking activities hosted by the Centre; we are planning to continue and sell pastries and other desserts. “The Centre’s activities enable me to provide for my family in a more stable manner, especially given my husband is unemployed,” she added.

The UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) empowers Palestine refugees, focusing on the most vulnerable groups, by meeting their social and economic needs through community social interventions. RSSP activities range from the distribution of food baskets and the regular assessment of refugees’ poverty status and eligibility for services through social workers, to a variety of skills training and capacity building mainly for women, children and youth.  In total, UNRWA assists seven Women’s Programme Centres in refugee camps across the Gaza Strip. WPCs aim to empower women socially and economically, and enhance women’s participation in the community through legal advice and with skills-based trainings. The centres also try to assist illiterate women in entering the formal education system by providing education and literacy classes.

Funding Needs

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. 

Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.

As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt.

The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be found here,

Crossings

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza.Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air.Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.

Crossing

13 June

14 June

15 June

16 June

17 June

18 June

19 June

Rafah

Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Erez

Open

Open

Open

Open for emergency and medical cases

Closed

Open

Open

Kerem Shalom

Open

Open

Open

Closed

Closed

Open

Open

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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