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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
1 September 2014


1 September2014 | issue 55


Almost one quarter of UNRWA school buildings (156) continue to serve as collective centers. 55,086 IDPs – Palestine refugees and non-refugees – continue to take shelter in 36 UNRWA schools.


Past 24 hours: The situation in Gaza remains calm.


In the beginning of August, UNRWA rolled out a hygiene and water campaign in its shelters. The campaign is designed to make IDPs aware of, and take responsibility for, helping to promote clean shelters to prevent a large scale outbreak of diseases, such as water-borne infections as well as lice and scabies. Dedicated young graduates were hired under the Agency’s Job Creation Programme and trained to work with the displaced to promote a healthy environment in the overcrowded schools. Over the course of the campaign, additional water and hygiene facilitators were hired from the IDPs active in the shelters. IDP hygiene and water committees, including at minimum two women, two men and four youth of which two girls and two boys, were established in the shelters.

Anas Naemat, a 27 years old father of three, took refuge with his family in an UNRWA school after fleeing East Khan Younis, Southern Gaza, in July. His baby girl was born with a severe urinary tract defect, requiring constant diaper changing. Living under these particularly distressing circumstances in an overcrowded shelter, Mr. Naemat said: " I have to ensure a clean and safe environment for my family. Through the UNRWA initiatives, we were encouraged to learn about the proper use of cleaning products and rationalization of water use. I started explaining these issues to the people with whom my family and I share the same classroom, instructing them not to leave any dirty dishes or garbage such as dirty diapers in the classrooms."

The hygiene and water campaign was rolled out amongst incredible challenges, including insufficient access to non-potable water during the first weeks of massive displacement, the high number of IDPs in UNRWA shelters, and intermittent resumption of violence which led to large scale fluctuations from, to and between collective centers and impeded staff movement. The ongoing hygiene and water campaign is complemented by the deployment of dedicated medical staff who continue monitoring health issues of concern, treat patients in the shelters or refer them if necessary, and improve access of the displaced to medication for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma.

In the same school, the UNRWA Al Amal school in Khan Younis, committees are also working on recycling solid waste. With the help of hygiene facilitators, the displaced were encouraged to recycle empty shampoo bottles and water cans into household articles designed to make life in the overcrowded shelters a bit easier and comfortable for all. Maysoon Saleh Abu Sabt is one of the displaced who calls the UNRWA school a temporary home. The 19 year old said it was through UNRWA’s hygiene and water campaign that the displaced learned to recycle plastic. We started using plastic bottles to make soap holders, kitchen funnels, cups, and dustpans. Recycling helps to minimize the amounts of solid waste at the shelters and is very important in light of the dire conditions we live under, namely the blockade."

Since the announcement of the ceasefire on 26 August, the IDP situation has been very fluid. The Water and Hygiene Campaign had to restart with committee formation in the consolidated shelters, as many displaced who were actively involved left. As of yesterday, there were 35 IDP committees (including at minimum two women, two men and four youth of which two girls and two boys) with overall 290 members. 68 awareness sessions were held among 2,859 IDPs, focusing on cleanliness, usage of cleaning materials, best practices in water use, how to keep food from being contaminated and how to treat lice and scabies and avoid other diseases related to hygiene conditions. Yesterday, 201 persons were referred to medical focal points and 11,007 IDPs took part in cleaning campaigns.


The ceasefire holds.


Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 111 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.


The revised flash appeal is available here.


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