Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
30 January 2009

This report was issued at HQ. It covers the period from 29 to 30 January. The next report will be issued on or
around 3 February.

    • Flash Appeal for USD 613 million to support 1.4 million Gazans will be launched on 2 February in Geneva.
    • Two people were killed and 12 injured, including seven school children, in recent incidents.
    • Flow of aid and staff into Gaza remains insufficient.

II. Situation Overview

A number of incidents since 27 January point to the fragility of the cease-fire unilaterally implemented by Israel on 18 January, and later the same day by Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

27 January: one Israeli soldier was killed and three soldiers injured by a roadside bomb on the Israeli side of the Gaza border. One Palestinian was killed, and another seriously injured by Israeli fire following the explosion.

28 January: two Qassam rockets were fired from Palestine into southern Israel, no injuries reported.

29 January: one Palestinian wounded by air strike. Seven school children were also injured. The number of trucks allowed to enter Gaza daily is insufficient to meet daily requirements. Staff of humanitarian organizations also continue to face serious restrictions to entering Gaza, which is impacting response efforts.

III. Humanitarian Needs and Response


* According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), as of 1600 hrs (1700 hrs GMT) 28 January, not including those who have died
due to lack of access to regular health care. **According Magen David Adom. Including 11 Israeli soldiers.
*** According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 339 Israeli soldiers were also wounded.

The ICRC reported that at least 100 people have been registered by their families as missing since the fighting began.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians are currently clearing areas throughout Gaza . Six main transportation roads were confirmed clear as of 23 January. All UNRWA schools have been checked and cleared of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and eight of the 32 UNICEF-supported government schools were cleared as of 28 January. EOD technicians are also prioritizing the checking and clearing of UNICEFsupported clinics as well as requests from UNRWA to check/clear residential areas.

IOM plans to conduct a rapid psychosocial needs assessment with partner organization and support existing community and psychosocial centres to respond to the needs of 15,000 people affected by the recent fighting.

As of the morning of 28 January, there were approximately 30 international NGO staff members working in Gaza and approximately 22 UN international staff members. There are currently outstanding requests for over 200 people to enter Gaza, and this number is increasing daily. The Association of International Development Agencies stated that, “it is unacceptable that staff of international aid agencies with the expertise in emergency response are still not given full access into Gaza, and that the crossings are not fully operational for humanitarian and commercial goods.”

WFP noted that at least 25 trucks per day would be required to cross into Gaza to meet food assistance needs. Authorities at the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT) highlighted that the current capacity of Kerem Shalom crossing is 120 trucks/day; therefore careful prioritization of the flow of aid into Gaza is required to meet all of the urgent needs. On 28 January, WFP reported that there was a backlog of 21 WFP truckloads waiting to cross into Gaza at Karem Shalom .

Hospitals and much of their medical equipment is in need of urgent repairs. The recent fighting exacerbated the conditions of the health infrastructure, which had already deteriorated after 18 months of closures of crossings which prevented the necessary maintenance. The import of spare parts remains a priority. ICRC also reported that there is an urgent need for heavy painkillers and medicines for cancer patients and those with bleeding disorders.

Agencies supporting those with disabilities estimate that half of those injured during the fighting may suffer life-long impairment and have underscored the importance of providing early intervention, including specialized rehabilitation. Al Wafa Hospital, the primary provided of such services is not yet fully operational after sustaining severe damage during the fighting.

WHO and the Palestinian MoH Operations Room are coordinating with doctors and NGOs before deploying more health personnel into Gaza to ensure that specialty needs are met. IOM plans to facilitate the return of patients who had been evacuated, as their conditions permit.

Food and Nutrition
There is a limited amount of food available in Gaza and prices have doubled or tripled since before 27 December. On 28 January, WFP distributed 59 MTs of food to 877 households with the implementing partner CHF International. They also distributed 5.4 MTs of food to over 21,000 school children. The number of people receiving food aid in Gaza is now 1.3 million.

Emergency Shelter
Between 22-25 January, international and local NGOs conducted a joint rapid needs assessment of the level of damage to housing units and the numbers of people displaced from their homes in all localities and neighborhoods in Gaza.

Preliminary reports from 48 of the 61 localities suggest that 22.6 percent of housing units were damaged or destroyed, of which 16.7 percent had moderate damage, 3.2 percent had severe damage and 2.6 percent were completely destroyed. Over 66,000 people remain displaced in these localities, hosted by families whose resources are increasingly overstretched. IOM reported that a total of 21,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or badly damaged (approximately 13 percent of the total housing stock).

ICRC and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) provided essential supplies for nearly 19,500 persons whose houses were fully or partially destroyed, and plastic sheeting for more than 48,000 persons.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
Seventy percent of water wells are functioning, though 10,000 people remain without access to water. Following some emergency repairs, sewage is no longer leaking into the streets in Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia.

The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) reported that water pipes damaged during the fighting are at risk of contamination from sewage. Furthermore, Gaza is at risk from groundwater contamination by sewage as the sandy soil easily absorbs water and any sewage leakages. Restrictions on the goods that can cross into Gaza are impeding the repair of the sewage and water systems. The CMWU currently has a list of prioritized items, including pipes, generators and pumps awaiting clearance from the Israeli authorities for entry into Gaza.

Humanitarian organizations, including Action Contre la Faim (ACF), CARE, ICRC, Oxfam and UNICEF are providing drinking water and supporting CMWU to perform urgent repairs.

The supply of electricity has returned to the same status that existed before 27 December and most of Gaza is receiving intermittent electricity. However, many low-voltage lines that provide electricity directly to households are still not functioning. Currently 202 MW out of a total demand for 225-240 MW is being supplied. To increase the supply of electricity, 38 transformers are required, though the utility company is awaiting permission from the Israelis to allow these to cross into Gaza.

FAO reported that almost all of Gaza’s 13,000 households that depend on farming, herding and fishing have suffered damage to their assets during the recent fighting. Many farms, according to FAO have been completely destroyed. This has impacted the food production, which had already been constrained by 18 months of border closures that prohibited the import and export of goods. FAO expects an increase in food insecurity as households increasingly rely on food aid or are coping by consuming less nutritious foods. FAO is planning emergency agricultural rehabilitation interventions to assist 27,500 people in the most vulnerable farming families.

Cross Sector Issues
The sustained reopening of all crossings into Gaza is necessary to ensure access. The quantity of goods allowed into Gaza must be expanded greatly, and must include construction materials (including cement and sand) and spare parts, which are necessary for rebuilding critical infrastructure and homes. To deliver lifesaving services, humanitarian workers require unimpeded access into Gaza, including NGO staff.

Cash has still not entered Gaza (except for the payment of staff in some international organizations). A system must be urgently established to ensure the regular and predictable monthly transfer of the necessary cash to ensure people can access basic supplies, for the payment of salaries, to reactivate the private sector and prevent an increased dependence on aid.

IV. Funding

A Flash Appeal for USD 613 million will be launched on 2 February in Geneva to meet the emergency relief and early recovery needs of 1.4 million people in Gaza. The Appeal includes 98 NGO and 73 UN projects. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Secretary General of the United Nations noted that in supporting the appeal, “the world can help overcome at least some measure of [Gazans’] hardship.” He stressed that, “without urgent action, Gaza faces an even greater humanitarian calamity.” (See summary of the appeal attached)

For a funding update see: appealID=834. This information was compiled by OCHA, based on the information provided by donors and appealing organisations.

All humanitarian partners including donors and recipient agencies are encouraged to inform FTS of cash and in-kind contributions to:

V. Contacts

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter