15 August 2017
• UNRWA recently adopted a new Gender Equality Strategy which will form another key component of the Agency’s work to ensure that UNRWA services are provided in an equitable and needs-sensitive manner. As part of the UNRWA Gender Equality Strategy 2016-2021 (GES) roll-out, the Headquarter-based UNRWA Gender Advisor, presented the Strategy to the UNRWA Gaza Field Office (GFO) Field Management Team, composed of the heads of programmes and departments and their deputies. Covering the period from 2016 to 2021 the GES draws on gender equality work undertaken thus far in UNRWA. In particular, it brings up to date the Agency’s 2007 Gender Equality Policy, which commits the organization to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and builds on the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy 2008-2015, under which gender mainstreaming efforts were advanced across the Agency in recent years. The current Strategy, which is closely aligned with the UNRWA Medium-Term Strategy 2016 - 2021, aims to make UNRWA’s organizational culture, practices and programme implementation more gender-sensitive so that services and assistance are provided in a more equitable manner and Palestine refugees – whether women, men, boys or girls – can increasingly fulfil their needs and enjoy their rights.
• On 27 July, the graduation ceremony was held for the Student Ambassador Programme, and UNRWA Summer Fun Weeks (SFW) initiative, dedicated to enhance the leadership skills of a select group of talented Palestine refugee students. Hosted in the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre, the leadership of Gaza Field Office gathered alongside a group of senior UNRWA staff to celebrate the success and commitment of the participants. For three weeks, 60 UNRWA students aged between 10 and 14 years engaged in activities aimed to empower them to serve as representatives of the UNRWA student body at local events and other forums. Participants will serve as role models inspiring, motivating and encouraging their peers to excel academically and in their communities. Students were nominated by school principals and then interviewed by area committees comprised of Student Ambassador coordinators and SFWs representatives. As part of the programme, the Ambassadors had the opportunity to participate in a wide array of activities such as professional training on leadership, presentation and communications skills as well as sessions on research methodology, etiquette and stress management. To complement the theory with practice, each participant was required to work on a community-based project of their choice. In addition to gaining insights into the work of local human rights and community-based organisations, the participants visited a number of UNRWA installations and met with heads of UNRWA programmes and departments in the Field Office becoming well-versed in the vital services the Agency provides to 1.3 million Palestine refugees in Gaza. From 8 to 27 July, UNRWA organised Summer Fun Weeks for which 186,000 children had registered and which took place over three cycles covering 125 locations across the Gaza Strip, including locations suitably equipped for the participation of children with disabilities. The SFWs not only provided Palestine refugee children with a chance to alleviate the stress and pressures of daily life in Gaza, they also offered about 2,420 short-term job opportunities with UNRWA to registered refugees, primarily youth, through its Job Creation Programme.
• On 31 July, UNRWA celebrated the conclusion of two important projects funded by the European Union (EU) aimed at enhancing the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Gaza: ‘Supporting Stability in Gaza through the UNRWA Emergency Cash for Work (CfW) Programme’ and ‘Building Resilience and Reducing Tensions in the Gaza Strip’. The closing ceremony, which was held at the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre (GTC), was attended by the Head of Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP), the Principal of GTC and a number of senior UNRWA staff. Through the Building Resilience and Reducing Tensions in the Gaza Strip project, UNRWA was able to provide six-month training for 420 over-aged Palestine refugee students at UNRWA’s two technical and vocational training centres. After the training, the participants were provided with apprenticeship opportunities. In addition, the EU grant supported the delivery of human rights training to 262,000 children in UNRWA schools. Finally, the project allowed the CMHP to provide structured psychosocial support sessions to students and families as well as build the capacity of school counsellors. The second project enabled UNRWA to provide over 5,000 Palestine refugees with CfW opportunities over a period of 12 months, thus reinforcing the self-reliance of Palestine refugees and address high unemployment in Gaza. The EU continues to be the largest multilateral donor to the Agency’s core programmes and services. This latest donation came in addition to the EU’s EUR 82 million annual contribution to the UNRWA Programme Budget, and brings its total contribution to the Agency to EUR 138.5 million in 2016 (including contributions to projects and emergency appeals).
• UNRWA Gaza continues to receive regular visits from donors and partners including the National Committees in Spain, the United States and Italy. National Committees support the Agency through reaching out to the public, local authorities and the private sector in their countries. They engage with individuals through correspondence, social media and special events. For local and regional governments, they prepare proposals tailored to local interest and opportunities based on UNRWA’s programmes and priorities. The National Committees are independent, non-profit Non-Governmental Organisations. From 30 July to 1 August the Executive Director and Communications Director from the USA National Committee visited Gaza. They had the opportunity to meet Palestine refugee families and visit a number of UNRWA installations to learn about the impact of UNRWA operations which is supported by the National Committee’s efforts. During their visit, they received a briefing on the economic and psychosocial situation in Gaza after more than ten years of blockade and recurrent conflict, now exacerbated by a worsening power crisis which has often reduced electricity provision to less than three hours per day and is putting immense pressure on public infrastructure. In addition, the Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations briefed the delegation on UNRWA operations in Gaza and its services to Palestine refugees.
• For two weeks in July, in preparation of the new school year 2017-2018, UNRWA Gaza Field Office opened registration for technical and vocational training courses. 2,629 applications were received for trade-related courses and 2,352 applications for technical courses at the Agency’s two technical and vocational educating and training centres, in Gaza and Khan Younis, illustrating the high interest in the UNRWA training programme. All applicants will now be assessed using a combination of tests and interviews and those with the highest scores will be selected starting their training in September. The UNRWA Gaza Training Centre was established in 1953 with a view to providing young refugees with skills-based training and assisting them in finding meaningful employment opportunities, increasing their chances in the local job market and helping develop the local economy. The Agency also maintains a second vocational training centre in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. To date, more than 23,000 students have completed the UNRWA Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme; UNRWA also introduced an initiative to provide the most vulnerable students in Gaza with TVET opportunities. Courses include plastering, tiling, carpentry, early childhood care, website development, graphic design and photography, and media production.
• In July 2017, UNRWA completed four construction projects. UNRWA reconstructed one Distribution Centre in Jabalia, North Gaza, and one Health Centre in Ma’an, Khan Younis, which will serve tens of thousands of Palestine refugees. Further, two new school buildings in Gaza will provide quality primary education to almost 4,000 students on a double-shift basis in both schools. 26 infrastructure projects worth US$ 59.4 million are under implementation while 18 projects worth US$ 23.4 million are awaiting implementation.
Activities in July 2017.
• The reconstruction of 133 totally destroyed homes was completed.
• Repair works for 269 housing units were completed.
Disbursement of payments
• In total UNRWA disbursed approximately US$ 7.6 million for shelter assistance:
• For repair works: US$ 2,009,429
• For TSCA: US$ 1,928,666
Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, forcing them ashore, on seven days during the reporting period. No injuries were reported.
Civilians, mostly youth, staged protests against the blockade near the perimeter fence in different areas of Gaza. When some of them approached the fence and threw stones towards Israeli observation posts, Israeli forces responded with gunfire and tear gas. Four injuries and one death were reported.
Various other protests were held during the week in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to demand UNRWA and other UN services.
Israeli forces positioned at the fence opened fire towards Palestinian areas on three days during the reporting period. No injuries were reported.
UNRWA staff members participate in first aid training, organized as part of the SSAFE training initiative in Khan Younis
Training Centre in the southern Gaza Strip. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Tamer Hamam
Wisam Abu Warda, an FSRM training officer, said: “During the pilot training, over 600 frontline staff members such as guards, social workers and engineers… in Gaza city were trained on different topics including fire-fighting, first aid, incident reporting, and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). Following the training, we gathered feedback from the trainees so as to improve the training content.” Wisam stressed that “This training is important for both staff and beneficiaries. It helps staff handle the difficulties they face during their work and provides them with a better understanding of proper and effective incident reporting. This, in turn, enables them to provide quality services to beneficiaries.”
Following the pilot stage, the training was enriched with additional topics such as the definition of FSRM, road safety, weapons awareness, emergency scenarios, radio and satellite communications and kidnapping response. The training targets all UNRWA front-line staff and the roll-out to additional staff began from this point. To date, 733 staff members have received the training with a further rollout planned in the coming months.
“I was interested in learning about how to deal with complicated situations. The training was very insightful and, I believe, it is essential for all UNRWA staff, but especially those in direct contact with beneficiaries or those coordinating international and donor field visits,” said Azzam Abu-Habib, Assistant Project Coordination Officer, who received the SSAFE training.
In Gaza, UNRWA’s largest field of operation with over 12,800 staff and some 260 installations, the Field Security and Risk Management (FSRM) team seeks to provide leadership, advice and operational support for security and risk management with the aim to mitigate risks thereby improving staff safety, secure assets and protect premises in order to support sustainable programme delivery. Further, FSRM works with the Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme (ICIP) with regard to the design of new installations to ensure safety and security requirements are considered early on. To ensure that existing installations – not only those newly built - meet standards, FSRM conducts Facility Safety and Security Surveys (FSSS).
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$ 295 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$ 425 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.
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.