Situation Report - 27th February to 4th March
The Cluster Approach was endorsed by the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) in Sept. ‘05 The IASC, in its own words, is "the primary mechanism for inter agency coordination of humanitarian assistance. It is a unique forum involving key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners". http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/
1. MAIN ISSUES
· On 03 March a shipment of 704 packets of washing powder was rejected by Israeli Authorities at Kerem Shalom crossing because the cargo did not have an “environmental certificate”, without any explanation as to what this is. The washing powder is part of hygiene kit distribution by World Vision in Gaza. On 26 February an identical cargo for World Vision was delivered to Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing.
· Two pallets of UNICEF t-shirts were also refused clearance to Gaza on 03 March on the grounds that this is not a humanitarian priority. The t-shirts are for activities under a UNICEF education programme to improve involvement of girls in 50 schools in disadvantaged areas of Gaza.
· With regards to the import of medical items, on 04 March COGAT stated that the Ministry of Health period of expedited clearance for medical items has now expired. This means that the MAP UK medical items (for child health care), blocked for delivery since 30 January 2009, are now subject to the longer clearance procedure.
2. PRIORITIES FOR IMPROVING DELIVERY OF HUMANITARIAN RELIEF TO GAZA
· The Humanitarian Community has compiled an updated list of sector priorities to ensure the delivery of humanitarian relief reflects the needs of the conflict-affected population in Gaza. This list will be presented to COGAT by the Logistics Cluster on behalf of the humanitarian community, with a request to respect the humanitarian nature of this cargo and to ensure timely delivery.
· The Humanitarian Community is attempting to gain clearance for items essential to rehabilitation of water system in Gaza: Due to the fact that some WASH items have not been permitted to enter Gaza for over a month, the WASH cluster will implement a new approach to presenting the items to COGAT. Following the format of the main counterpart in Gaza, Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, all organisations conducting water infrastructure repairs will document necessary items on a project basis. It is expected that this increased level of detail and specificity regarding end-use will enable implementation of projects under the Flash Appeal.
· Request COGAT to clearly define the policy-level process governing approval of relief items destined for Gaza (including so-called ‘dual purpose’ items). The objective is to increase predictability and avoid incurring additional charges for transportation and storage of rejected cargo.
3. LOGISTICS COORDINATION
· Jerusalem Logistics Cluster: At the meeting on 23 February, the Logistics Cluster provided an updated list of humanitarian relief items refused clearance to Gaza by Israeli Authorities. Participants at the meeting also asked the Logistics Cluster to compile information on limitations to the import of humanitarian relief into Israel and damages to cargo resulting from security checks at the crossing points.
· El Arish Logistics Cluster: The Logistics Cluster has received requests to transport an additional 2500 pallets of humanitarian relief items from Nitzana to Gaza. A further 981 pallets of donations from Saudi Arabia will be transported by the Logistics Cluster, following confirmation from the consignee.
· There is an estimated total of 9000 MT of humanitarian cargo currently in El Arish. The Egyptian Government has mandated the Egyptian Red Crescent to take custody of these bilateral donations. The slow movement of this cargo into Gaza is due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of consignee in Gaza and lack of customs documentation.
· The UN Humanitarian Agencies in Jordan, Gaza Emergency Coordination Cell (UNJGECC): The cell, chaired by UNRWA continues to meet each week to coordinate humanitarian relief destined for Gaza, originating from or transiting Jordan. Humanitarian requirements are discussed amongst participants and information on pipeline cargo shared. Information from other Logistics Cluster is used to determine priorities for transportation.
· At the meeting of the Cell on 04 March, participants were notified that due to funding limitations the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO) transportation services will be scaled down. This has implications for humanitarian aid arriving in Jordan without funds for onward transport; Previously the JHCO undertook transportation of humanitarian relief to Gaza. From now on, donors are being requested to provide funding for transfer of cargo Jordan - Gaza and UNRWA is seeking additional funding for consignments arriving in Jordan without this funding.
4. INTERACTION WITH COGAT
· The Logistics Cluster continued to request clearance from COGAT for transportation of UNICEF stationery items, Early Childhood Development Kits and children’s toys; UK MAP medical equipment and FAO veterinary supplies. Whereas the reason given last week for the hold up in delivery of the Early Childhood Development Kits was due to the inclusion of a mine risk education leaflet, the reason cited by COGAT on 04 March was that the Ministry of Education would like to review the contents.
· On 02 March, Mercy Corps were informed by COGAT that their shipment of 90MT of macaroni (together with an additional 125 MT of flour) would not get clearance to enter Gaza. Last week COGAT had stated that the macaroni would be cleared for transport on Thursday 26 February. Mercy Corps will now look to distribute the humanitarian aid in Egypt as they are not able to continue to pay detention for the cargo in El Arish.
· The Logistics Cluster requested details of border crossings during the Purim holiday period. COGAT indicated that definitive information on closure times would not be available until Saturday evening prior to the commencement of the holiday.