Gaza Situation Report 223

13 May 2018
Under the slogan “Dignity is Priceless”, the UNRWA Gaza Field Office organized a friendly football match between UNRWA local staff and Palestine refugee youth on 4 May at Al Durrah Stadium in Deir Al Balah, central Gaza.  © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan.

24 April  – 08 May 2018 | issue 223

Highlights

  • Under the slogan “Dignity is Priceless”, the UNRWA Gaza Field Office organized a friendly football match between UNRWA local staff and Palestine refugee youth on 4 May at Al Durrah Stadium in Deir Al Balah, central Gaza. The match aimed at attracting the attention of sports influencers around the world to support Palestine refugees and UNRWA’s global fundraising efforts. The Chief Area Office, Middle area, Mr. Mohammed Reyati kicked off the thirty-minute-long match and the international commentator Hafeez Darraji provided live match commentary. At the end of the match, all players were awarded medals for their participation and fair play, and the winning team received a symbolic football cup. On 18 January, UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless global campaign in response to recent unprecedented funding reductions. The campaign aims to protect the rights of millions of vulnerable Palestine refugees, who are at risk of losing basic education and healthcare services as well as life-saving assistance. At this crisis moment, Palestine refugees deserve the collective solidarity to protect their dignity by providing emergency food assistance to the most vulnerable, and by not disrupting the education of their children and healthcare for families.

  • On 6 May, 137,974 UNRWA students in Gaza (grade 5 to 9) began taking their 2017/18 second semester final tests in all subjects. The exam period lasts for eight days, and there are two versions of every test to accommodate morning and afternoon-shift students. All exams are school-based in terms of observation, marking and data entry. Students will start their summer vacation immediately after the last test on 14 May. In addition, 133,926 UNRWA students (grade 1 to 4) are being directly assessed by their teachers according to UNRWA’s new performance and competency-based assessment and evaluation criteria. The Education Programme in Gaza is the Agency’s largest programme. The provision of education is a major investment into the dignity and human development of Palestine refugees and an important contribution to achieving the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals, particularly ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning.

  • To celebrate International Nursing Day on 12 May and Midwifery Day on 5 May, UNRWA organized an event honouring the work and dedication of its midwives and nurses. The celebration included a presentation off success stories from UNRWA health centres, recitation of poems, and a Dabkah performance. UNRWA employs around 94 midwives, 174 practical nurses and 62 staff nurses working in its 22 health centres across the Gaza Strip. Midwives work with women and their families throughout the cycle of maternal health care, from preconception care, through antenatal and postnatal care to family planning. Nurses work with families during the entire life cycle, providing support with out-patient primary health care. Their tasks are varied, from infant monitoring to follow-up on patients with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. All nurses and midwives provide initial psychosocial support to beneficiaries along their physical services.

  • As part of an agency-wide initiative to mainstream GBV interventions into emergency preparedness, a Training of Trainers (ToT) was organised in Gaza from 29 April to 1 May for Social Intervention Supervisors from the Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP), legal counsellors and assistant mental health supervisors from the Community Mental Health (CMHP), and staff members from the Gender Unit. The ToT aimed to equip the participants with in-depth understanding of GBV, including types of GBV, guiding principles for working with survivors, communication skills, the different roles and responsibilities among staff, and information on monitoring the quality of service provision. Following the ToT, a series of two-day capacity-building trainings will be rolled out targeting 200 RSS social workers, 56 CMHP counsellors, 25 staff members of the Gender Unit and 50 Palestine refugees from the local community. The trainings will cover a wide array of topics focusing on the basics of GBV, guiding principles of a survivor-centred approach, communicating with survivors of GBV, addressing sexual violence, as well as staff roles and responsibilities. Capitalizing on the results of its Building Safety programme (2015-2017), UNRWA seeks to expand its institutional commitment to respond, mitigate and prevent GBV in emergencies through institutionalization, ensuring quality control, improving accountability, and involving communities in GBV mitigation and prevention.

  • UNRWA continues to implement a total of 10 infrastructure projects worth US$ 42.78 million, while 23 projects worth US$ 34.67 million are awaiting implementation. In April, UNRWA imported 24 trucks of construction materials included on the list of dual use items such as cement, white cement, steel pipes, steel reinforcement bars, raw materials and elevators for ongoing UNRWA infrastructure projects.

The UNRWA Shelter Update

Activities in April 2018:

Completed cases:

  • 262 reconstruction cases have been completed.
  • 160 families have received their first instalment to start the reconstruction.

Disbursement of payments

  • In total UNRWA disbursed approximately US$ 3.8 million for shelter assistance:
    • For reconstruction: US$ 3,712,431
    • For repair: US$ 91,312

Operational Environment

  • Between 24 April and 8 May, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip on 11 occasions, forcing them ashore. No injuries were reported.

    etween 24 April and 8 May, Israeli forces positioned at the border fence and opened fire towards Palestinian areas on 20 occasions. One injury was reported.

    Between 24 April and 8 May, civilians, including many youth, continued to participate in a number of protests under the slogan “Great Return March” near the perimeter fence in different areas of Gaza. Israeli forces responded with gunfire and teargas. According to OCHA and WHOsince the start of “Great Return March” on 30 March until 28 April, 44 Palestinians were killed and some 6,793 were injured.

UNRWA’s Response

Mohammed Alwan was born blind:
My school is my second home
Mohammed Alwan, who was born blind, playing the electronic piano in the music class at the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre for Visually Impaired (RCVI) in Gaza. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan.
Mohammed Alwan, who was born blind, playing the electronic piano in the music class at the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre for Visually Impaired (RCVI) in Gaza. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan.

While Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip face immense challenges due to the Israeli blockade, political divisions as well as the deteriorating socio-economic context, the situation is even more difficult for persons with disabilities, particularly children.

Seven-year-old Mohammed Alwan, a Palestine refugee child from Gaza city who was born blind, is a student at the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired (RCVI), a school in Gaza for Palestine refugees with visual impairments, and dreams to be a doctor in the future. .

“It’s not easy to be a blind child. I have two brothers and I live in an extended family building where there are many children, all of whom can see. But I want to learn, play, dream and enjoy my life equally with all children across the world. RCVI is the only place in Gaza that gives me the opportunity to access education,” Mohammed said.

At the RCVI, children with partial sight receive eyeglasses to improve their impaired vision. They are assisted by a Braillist, and instructed in the use of the Perkins Braille machine.  Children are also taught basic life skills and how to successfully navigate the world around them. RCVI also over that past year implemented the Vision Project, which aimed to enrich the teaching of visually impaired children through the use of modern technology, particularly using the voice dream reader application through iPads and tablets.

“I love my school, it’s where I feel safe and loved, it’s my second home. My favorite part during the day is when I run in the school yard with my friend, Hamed. I it makes me feel free. I also play music and draw here, and the motor guidance in the school also makes me walk without feeling afraid to fall or hit on something The RCVI in Gaza and offers rehabilitation, education and recreational activities for visually impaired children aged between four and 12 years. It is the only centre in Gaza providing these types of services to approximately 133 visually impaired children studying in the RCVI and 361 visually impaired children who are integrated in schools.

In line with UNRWA’s commitment to the realization of the universal right of all children to education, the RCVI, which is part of the Agency’s Relief and Social Services Programme, has been providing educational services and social support to children with visual impairments and their families since 1962.

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’s emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. Prioritised needs in Gaza in relation to the 2018 oPt Emergency Appeal include US$ 80 million for the distribution of emergency food parcels to almost 1 million people, at least US$ 10 million for creating temporary cash-for-work opportunities through UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme as well as US$ 7 million for the Agency’s Community Mental Health Programme. Furthermore, following the 2014 conflict, US$ 316 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$ 404 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 reconstruction of their demolished homes.

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 travelers, 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 travelers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.

Crossing

24 April

25 April

26 April

27 April

28 April

29 April

30 April

1 May

2 May

3 May

4 May

5 May

6 May

7 May

Rafah

Closed.

open for arrivals only

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Closed.

Erez

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Kerem Shalom

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
Join the #DignityIsPriceless campaign to stand up #ForPalestineRefugees