• Since January 2015, a total of 21,033 children (10,369 girls and 10,664 boys) and 4,299 caregivers (1,860 females and 2,439 males) benefited from psychosocial support services delivered by UNICEF in partnership with the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR) and the Gaza Community Mental Health program (GCMHP)
• During the reporting period, 3,000 adolescents in Gaza participated in an election process to choose 32 peer leaders (16 males and 16 females) who will receive leadership training.
• In the Middle Area of Gaza, UNICEF supported the completed rehabilitation of one water well damaged by the war, while another well is undergoing repairs benefitting 17,000 inhabitants in the areas of Nusseirat and Zahra with increased access to piped water.
• On March 22nd, UNICEF and its partners celebrated the World Water Day in Palestine. In Gaza, the population suffers from the consequences of long-lasting damages to the Water and Sanitation networks, and is at risk of using contaminated water for agricultural and domestic purposes.
• The Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) Working Group, co-chaired by UNICEF and WHO, met on 26 March in Ramallah to review emergency response procedures to demolitions, attacks on schools, settler violence, children in military detention and IDF violence in general, with a particularfocus on the West Bank. Partners discussed methods to strengthen coordination, response and documentation of the assistance provided to children and caregivers.
The Gaza Strip continues to be severely affected by the consequences of the summer conflict: due to lack of fuel, the sole power plant was forced to shut down from 5 to 8 March, leaving the population in blackout for 22 hours a day, for four days. Despite the resumption of the supply of fuel through donor funding, electricity still reaches the territory of Gaza with severe limitations, with black-outs of 12 to 18 hours per day. This affects not only the daily life of inhabitants, including children, but also disrupts the continuity of basic services, for example, health services and hospitals, food processing and wastewater pumping, resulting in public health threats.
On 9 and 10 March, the Rafah Crossing with Egypt was temporarily opened, allowing the crossing of students, patients seeking medical care and dual nationals. The crossing's opening did not appear to signal a change in Egyptian policy, despite the appeals of the international community to open the crossing to facilitate the movement of goods and people in order to improve living conditions in the Gaza Strip. During the two days of opening, 788 Palestinians reportedly exited Gaza to Egypt, 36 were denied access to Egypt, and 1,605 persons entered Gaza. During his second trip to the Gaza Strip, on 26 March, since the forming of the Government of National Consensus (GNC) in last June 2014, the Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Hamas agreed on the formation of a committee focused on the issues facing the Gaza Strip, including the payment of civil servants and the control of border crossings with Israel and Egypt.
According to the latest ICRC report, damage caused to water supply systems by successive rounds of fighting over the years have seriously reduced the territory's water storage capacity, primarily in reservoirs and water tanks, and caused significant wastewater leakage. As a result, the 1.8 million Gaza residents, half of them children, face high risks of further contamination of groundwater, which is used for domestic and agricultural uses. UNICEF, with OCHA's Information Management Unit support, is identifying areas where multiple vulnerability factors are present and limited services are available. UNICEF will coordinate with others to deliver multi-sectorial interventions, to positively impact the most vulnerable communities. Adolescents and youth in the Gaza Strip continue to face many challenges, which have been aggravated by the recent crisis. Adolescents and youth face social pressure to take up adult roles from an early age, which in many situations leads to risky behaviour. Economic and social constraints are drivers of school drop-put, abandonment of employment, migration and early marriage in exchange for protection and/or a shelter for them and their families. According to the UNFPA Rapid Assessment on Youth, among the survey participants (15-29), the age group 15-17 years was the most exposed to witnessing all forms of violence perpetrated by family members as well as shelter employees. The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in 13 UNRWA Collective Centers (CCs) is now standing at 7,346 as of 23 March; there are still more IDPs with host families.
World Water Day
On 22 March, UNICEF and local WASH partners celebrated World Water Day in a symbolic gathering that included raising awareness on water scarcity, conservation and discussing future sustainable water solutions. Adolescents participated in the event with musical performances and mural painting activities.
The needs in Gaza for fresh water are huge as nearly 95% of the aquifer is considered unfit for human consumption. One of the strategic options introduced by the Palestinian Water Authority to avoid over extraction of the aquifer is seawater desalination. UNICEF, with funds from the European Union, is building a seawater desalination plant which will provide drinking water to at least 75,000 people in southern Gaza. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
Humanitarian leadership and coordination
UNICEF, as part of the UN Country Team, coordinates with the Palestinian Government to support its role in humanitarian response, early recovery and reconstruction. In cooperation with the Government and other UN partners, UNICEF participated extensively in the Palestinian Detailed Needs Assessment and will continue to support the development of the recovery framework and strategy. UNICEF leads the Child Protection Working Group and affiliated groups for Mental Health and Psychosocial Services (MHPSS), and for monitoring and reporting of grave violations against children (MRM - Children and Armed Conflict reporting mechanism). These groups have been merged to maximise coordination of child protection responses during the emergency. UNICEF also leads the UN Theme Group on Social Protection. UNICEF leads the WASH cluster and co-leads the Education cluster with Save the Children, both in Gaza and at the national level. UNICEF is also leading a Nutrition Working Group under the Health Cluster, in close collaboration with the MoH and WFP, both in Gaza and at the national level.
Summary Analysis of Programme Response per Section
Education and Adolescents
UNICEF provides adolescents with capacity building opportunities to learn new skills and positively participate in the society. During the reporting period, 3,000 adolescents participated in an election process to choose 32 leaders (16 males and 16 females) who will receive leadership training; 168 literary sessions in the eight social fora have been conducted to enhance the adolescents' knowledge about the innovative tools of delivering messages of change and the culture of dialogue; 31 inspirational sessions were conducted. Twelve community discussion sessions were conducted in the reporting period, involving 300 participants (147 males and 153 females). Over 15 networking visits were conducted with Youth Oriented Organizations. UNICEF and its partner Ma'an finalized the design of and launched the E-Magazine. The magazine covers social issues of adolescents' concern, including environment and continually updated by the selected committee of adolescents who monitor and edit all the published pieces. UNICEF and its partner Injaz reached 3,048 adolescents in West Bank and Gaza through entrepreneurship training and activities. During the period, in total, 4,421 vulnerable households benefited from the e-voucher program. 12,136 school age children belonging to the beneficiary households were able to redeem their school uniforms, shoes and warm clothes.
UNICEF supported the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR) and the Gaza Community Mental Health program (GCMHP) in providing psychosocial support to children and caregivers in Gaza. Since January 2015, a total of 21,033 children (10,369 girls and 10,664 boys) and 4,299 caregivers (1,860 females and 2,439 males) benefited from the services. The GCMHP also provided specialized mental health support services to children, who were referred through the family centres, emergency psychosocial teams, the community and their own satellite teams. With UNICEF support, 23 Family Centres are providing child protection services, psychosocial assessment and outreach to vulnerable children and families. Caregivers of children attending the centres participate in awareness raising sessions on child protection and ways to support the psychosocial development of their children. Children and adolescents also come to the centres to engage in recreational activities and learn new skills. Since the start of the year, UNICEF and partners, the Ma'an Development Center and Tamer institute for Community Education, reached a total number of 3,403 children (1,780 girls and 1,623 boys) and 3,391 caregivers (2,238 females and 1,153 males).
Since 1st January, the UNICEF-led Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) and the UNICEF/WHO led mental health and Psychosocial Support Working Group have reached 22,697 children with structured group activities, and 2,559 children with individual counselling and case management services through 13 child protection, mental health and psychosocial support responders. A further 13,645 adults benefited from structured psychosocial activities and counselling. Members of the CPWG and MHPSS Working Group provide a variety of additional recreational and basic psychosocial activities, including open days, sporting activities, expressive arts and drama, for which the number of beneficiaries are not included in the above figures.
In their efforts to introduce a case management approach, UNICEF, with the support of the Norwegian Refugee Council, delivered a five day case management training in March, for 41 professionals, including Ministry of Social Affairs' child protection counsellors, case managers from the Ma'an family centers, and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) case managers. Case management is a process which includes registration, comprehensive assessment, planning, and follow-up over a period of weeks. The holistic needs of the child and family are met through the involvement of the extended family network and a range of services. The Ministry of Social Affairs Child Protection Networks and Ma'an Family Centers are now able to use the case management approach and receive referrals. An additional training will be delivered in April for GBV and Child Protection case managers.
The CPWG met on March 5th to draft child protection contingency and preparedness actions, which will be incorporated into the Protection Cluster Contingency Plan. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Education, as well as UN agencies and NGOs. They provided feedback on lessons learnt from the 2014 response to the military aggressions and drafted response and preparedness actions.
During the reporting period, with technical support from UNMAS, 125 professionals working with children in family centers and with the emergency psychosocial teams received a one day orientation on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) risk education, enabling them to pass on the messages to the children they work with. Additionally, 19,899 children (7,566 females and 1,233 males) and 17,487 caregivers (11,053 females, 6,434 males) have been reached with ERW risk education messages through the Family Centres. This complements the work that is undertaken at school level by teachers to ensure that children are well aware of the risks associated with ERWs and places to avoid. The MHPSS Working Group met on 26 March 2015 to review emergency response procedures to demolitions, attacks on schools, settler violence, children in military detention and IDF violence in general. Partners discussed methods to strengthen coordination and response and documentation of the assistance provided to children and caregivers.
Water, sanitation and Hygiene
During the reporting period, 182 cubic meters of chlorine and 25 cubic meters of chemicals were distributed for piped water disinfection to WASH facilities, water wells and desalination units in the Gaza Strip. The rehabilitation and upgrading of water and wastewater networks in Khan Younis, Rafah and Middle Area is ongoing and will benefit 16,806 people. 36 families of the eastern parts of Rafah and Middle Area, who were affected by the summer conflict, benefitted from the installation and fixing of 36 septic tanks, preventing sewage flowing in the streets. The area is not connected to the public sewage system. 905 marginalized families in Rafah and Eastern villages of Khan Younis received 905 adult hygiene kits and 901 baby hygiene kits through ACF, with UNICEF support. In the Middle area, rehabilitation of one water well damaged by the war was completed, while another well is undergoing repairs. As a result of the rehabilitation, 13,425 inhabitants in the areas of Nusseirat and Zahra are benefitting from increased access to piped water. A training on Gender mainstreaming organized by UNICEF through the WASH cluster was conducted with the participation of around 15 organizations working in the WASH sector.
Child Health & Nutrition
One half ton of medical consumables (0.05m1 and 0.5m1 syringes) were delivered to the warehouses of the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period in order to support the vaccination programme. 688 women and their new-borns were reached in the Gaza Strip through the post-natal home visit programmeduring the reporting period. The programme supports mothers and babies with post-natal care. 1,438 women living in homes and IDP shelters in the Gaza Strip benefited from awareness sessions on exclusive breastfeeding, communicable diseases prevention and hygiene. The neonatal mortality at Shifa neonatal department, in Gaza City, continues to decrease and now stands at 4.3%, thanks to UNICEF support funded by the Government of Japan of refurbishment of incubators. Before the refurbishment, the rate was standing at 30%.
189 cases documented but under verification. More cases are being documented by partners whose reports are due by 1 April.
Meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of affected children and families in the State of Palestine will contribute to reduced tensions and increased stability. In order to achieve this goal, additional funds are required to expand existing programmes that are being successfully implemented on the ground in the following sectors: Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Education, Child Protection, Health and Nutrition.
UNICEF wishes to express its deep gratitude to all public and private sector donors for the contributions and pledged received, which have made the current response possible. 'Un-earmarked' funding also gives UNICEF essential flexibility to direct resources and ensure the delivery of life-saving supplies and interventions to where they are needed most. Continued donor support is critical to continue scaling up the response.
UNICEF State of Palestine: http://www.unicef.org/oPt/
UNICEF State of Palestine on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unicefstateofpalestine
UNICEF State of Palestine on Twitter: https://twitter.com/UNICEFpalestine
UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children 2015: http://www.unicef.org/appeals/state of palestine.html
Whom to contact for further information:
Costanza Pasquali Lasagni, Reporting Specialist, UNICEF Jerusalem, Phone: +972 (0)2 584 0455, mobile : +972 (0)54 778 7685, email : firstname.lastname@example.org