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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
18 June 2008



GAZA STRIP INTER-AGENCY HUMANITARIAN FACT SHEET

June 2008





Israeli restrictions on fuel and good deliveries to Gaza continued in May, resulting in shortages and power cuts averaging three hours per day. Hamas authorities took control of fuel supplies and started distributing fuel to priority groups such as health services and taxi drivers. On May 17-19, the Gaza power station shut down because of a lack of industrial diesel.

The reduced supply of cooking gas led one poultry farmer to slaughter around 165,000 chicks who could not survive without heating. The short supply of petrol and diesel made movement and the operation of generators difficult. Many farmers who need diesel to pump water from irrigation 70 per cent of Gaza’s agricultural wells harvested crops prematurely or lost crops completely.

On May 22, a large truck bomb was detonated at Erez checkpoint. No one was injured apart from the driver of the truck who was killed but some of the protective walls at the checkpoint were damaged. The checkpoint was closed for international staff working in Gaza and Gazans with special co-ordination to leave Gaza until May 26.


FOOD (WFP, UNRWA)

• Food prices continue to fluctuate as seasonal changes combined with global price rises and Israeli restrictions to make shopping for basic commodities unpredictable. Price rises in May included lemon which rose by 60 percent, banana 25 percent, garlic 20 percent, fresh beef seven percent, chicken ten percent and frozen meat by 11 percent.

• WFP carried out a food security assessment with FAO and UNRWA. It found that Gazans are eating less. Many parents have reduced their consumption to allow their children to eat better. Half the surveyed population reduced their spending on food, 89 percent bought lower quality of food and 75 percent have been buying smaller quantities of food since January. Almost everyone reduced their consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables and animal protein to save money. Very few Palestinians now eat fresh red meat.

HEALTH (WHO)

• Ministry of Health (MoH) hospitals struggled to secure fuel to operate their emergency generators which are used every day. All hospitals had reserves of less than 30 per cent of their storage capacity.

• Khan Younis District experienced power cuts for four hours each day. Only five out of ten clinics in Khan Yunis have electric generators, and three of these generators are out of order, while the other two have no fuel to operate them. As a result all primary health care in Khan Yunis was severely disrupted.

• Gaza European Hospital and Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, suspended 50 percent of their elective or non-emergency surgeries, and limited the laundry and autoclave working hours.

• Four out of the 44 MoH ambulances were not functioning because they have no petrol and the remaining 40 had partially filled tanks

• Out of 1,089 patients who applied for a permit to cross Erez Crossing for urgent medical treatment outside Gaza in May, 570 (52.34%) had their requests approved, 16 (1.47%) denied, 75 (6.89%) were still being processed, 385 (35.35%) were asked to supply more information 28 (2.57%) were asked to be interviewed by the Israeli General Security Service, and 15 (1.38%) had their applications returned as incomplete. 517 patients crossed Erez in May for medical treatment.

WATER AND SANITATION (UNICEF)

• Israeli fuel restrictions meant that the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility(CMWU) did not have enough fuel to pump sewage or water during power cuts. In April CMWU received 31 percent of its needs (45,990 liters) and five percent in May (8,350 liters).

• On May 25 Beit Lahia sewage lake level rose by 21 centimeters because the CMWU had no fuel to pump sewage to adjacent overflow lakes. A collapse of the banks of the lake could lead to a flood of 1.5 million cubic meters of sewage into surrounding areas, threatening the lives of 10,000 people, similar to the events at Um el Nasser in March 2007 which resulted in five deaths. UNRWA supplied 5,000 liters of fuel, enabling the pumps to resume operation and bring the sewage down to safe levels.

• As a result of the fuel shortage and power cuts, 15 per cent of the population had access to water for four to six hours per week, 25 per cent of the population had access to water every four days and 60 per cent of the population had access to water every other day.

• None of Gaza’s three sewage treatment plants functions normally. The lack of spare parts and fuel currently force CMWU to release about 77 million litres of raw or poorly treated sewage into the sea per day.

• A study by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation found that sea water on 11 out of 30 beaches in Gaza were polluted with fecal bacteria.

• In May, Israeli authorities allowed a small number of spare parts and materials into Gaza. UNICEF coordinated for the entry of two water pumps and the World Bank organized the entry of one caustic soda tank , 278 generator spare parts, 160 tons of cement for the construction of manholes on the networks and basins and one pressure switch for a pumping station.

MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL (UNRWA AND UNICEF)

The UNRWA mental health programme reassessed students exposed to violent events during Al-Bureij Explosion in February 2008 and found out that 61 percent of the severely traumatized ones have shown more than 20 percent improvement after counseling interventions leaving 162 students in need of further interventions. In the north area; UNRWA counselors found that 70 percent of the students who showed significant post-traumatic reactions have shown more than a 20 percent improvement after counseling interventions leaving 211 students in need of further intervention. UNRWA counselors will continue to follow up the traumatized students during the summer holiday.

In response to the deaths of two teachers and four pupils of UNRWA schools, UNRWA mental health counselors provided psychosocial support through visits to families of injured and deceased students and teachers, their communities and hospitals. Specific classroom based interventions were carried out in the classes of the dead children and teachers.

In response to IDF incursions in the month of May, UNICEF’s partner the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution offered group counseling to 2,435 children and adolescents, individual counseling to 696 children and sensitization sessions to 1,555 caregivers.



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