(including the 2014 Gaza flash appeal report)
This document outlines UNRWA emergency interventions in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) during 2014 and includes: (i) the 2014 oPt Emergency Appeal annual report; and (ii) the Gaza Flash Appeal report.
Tension increases: The first half of 2014 saw the peace talks between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization reach an impasse that led to their suspension and shattered hopes for resolving the issues at the heart of the ongoing conflict. It saw renewed efforts towards reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, leading to the announcement on 2 June 2014 by President Mahmoud Abbas of the formation of a Government of national consensus headed by Prime Minster Rami Hamdallah, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed on the basis of assurances provided both publicly and to the United Nations. It also saw the State of Palestine acceding to 20 multilateral treaties, including core human rights treaties.
On the ground, the Agency witnessed a deterioration of an already dire situation in the West Bank and Gaza. Following the collapse of peace talks and agreed prisoner releases, the killing of two Palestinian youth on 'Nakba day' by Israeli Security Forces (ISF), and the abduction and killing of three Israeli youth in the West Bank, on 13 June, Israel launched a campaign resulting in widespread search and arrest operations throughout the West Bank, and in particular in and around densely populated Palestine refugee camps. As a consequence, violent clashes occurred, resulting in a sharp increase in injuries and fatalities of Palestine refugees. The subsequent large-scale Israeli military operation in Gaza beginning on 8 July 2014 also resulted in widespread unrest in the West Bank.
A summer of conflict: The scale of damage and destruction as a result of the 50-day conflict has exacerbated the pre-existing humanitarian situation in Gaza. During the summer hostilities, Gaza witnessed extensive aerial bombardment, naval shelling and artillery fire, as well as substantial operations by ground forces which resulted in a widespread loss of life and livelihoods, and extensive damage to the already weak public infrastructure, including schools. An estimated 1,400 civilians were killed, including 500 children, and 11,231 were wounded, including over 3,500 children'.
At the peak of the emergency, over 290,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sought refuge in emergency shelters designated by UNRWA, which are normally UNRWA schools. As of 31 December 2014, UNRWA engineers' assessments had found over 86,000 Palestine refugee homes had been affected, including 7,380 homes which were totally destroyed, 5,368 requiring major repairs and 73,381 suffering minor damage2. With the present restrictions on material imports, the reconstruction of Gaza remains a complex problem.
Failing economy and Gaza's separation: The ongoing blockade and restrictions on the movement of people and goods is the main cause of deepening poverty and the primary obstacle to economic development in the Gaza Strip, entrenching 'de-development' and creating an on-going and complex humanitarian situation. Compounded by the destruction of tunnels in 2013, the only alternative supply line for Gaza, the eight-year blockade, combined with the impact of the summer hostilities, has left many in a humanitarian emergency, enduring the consequences of conflict for the third time in less than six years3.
West Bank occupation policies: In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, escalating violence and forced displacement continued to be driven by Israeli occupation-related policies4. 2014 again saw increasing violence by ISF against Palestinian civilians, with the highest number of fatalities and confrontations recorded in the past decade. Between January and December 2014, 58 Palestinians were killed and another 6,023 injured. Refugee camps continued to be significantly affected by the deteriorating protection situation.
UNRWA recorded 13 refugee fatalities (including one child) and 778 injuries (including 68 children) in the vicinity of the 19 Palestine refugee camps in the West Bank throughout the year'.
Pervasive movement restrictions, ongoing settlement expansion, illegal under international law and further displacement, continued to impact the lives of Palestine refugees in the West Bank. During 2014, 1,215 Palestinians, including 411 refugees (34 per cent), were displaced due to Israeli home demolitions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem; 82 per cent of refugee displacements occurred in Area C and 18 per cent in East Jerusalem. Out of a total of 600 structures demolished, 150 belonged to Palestine refugees, including more than 80 residential structures; 51 per cent of displaced refugees were women and girls while 50 per cent were children6.
The UNRWA response: Throughout 2014, UNRWA provided emergency food assistance in Gaza to 767,633 poor Palestine refugees, ensuring that 142,613 families received safe and nutritious food throughout the year. This assistance continued in an uninterrupted manner during the 50 days of hostilities. In addition, UNRWA contributed an estimated US$ 7,368,580 of cash for work income into the local economy and provided emergency water, sanitation, shelter and shelter repair, health care and education. At the height of the 2014 hostilities, almost 300,000 refugees and non-refugees were sheltered in 90 UNRWA facilities where they received food, water, basic healthcare, psychosocial support and sanitation services.
In the West Bank, food insecure refugees benefited from electronic vouchers, with a total value of US$ 2,660,831, to purchase basic food items. Emergency cash-for-work assisted 38,024 refugees living in West Bank camps, constituting US$7,288,169 in subsidies. Palestine refugees were also assisted through six mobile health clinics and health care partners that provided access to primary health-care services for up to 121,022 people during 1,568 visits to 56 communities. Community mental health services continued to promote the resilience, mental health and psychosocial well-being of some of the most vulnerable refugees in the West Bank. A total of 186 protection incidents were systematically monitored and documented by UNRWA, of which 66 per cent were reported to the responsible authorities. In support of strengthened protection for Palestine refugees, more than 94 stakeholder mobilization activities were conducted to raise awareness and advocate for respect of IHL/IHRL.
2 UNRWA, 2015, Shelter Assessment: Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme (internal document). The final assessment of damaged or destroyed refugee homes is to be concluded in April 2015.
3 UNRWA, Strategic Response to Gaza, 2014, p5, foreword by the Commissioner General. Available at http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/ strategic_response_to_gaza_2014_hostilities.pdf
4 For example, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49.
5 Total figures from OCHA; Refugee disaggregated figures from UNRWA Operations support office.
6 Total figures from OCHA; Refugee disaggregated figures from UNRWA Operations support office.