Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Situation Report on the Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip – No. 15
20-21 January 2009
The following information is based on reports from member states, the UN Country Team for the occupied Palestinian territory, humanitarian partners and authorities involved in the humanitarian response.
1. General Overview
1. As of 21 January, the ceasefires declared by Israel and Hamas continued to hold and Israel had withdrawn all forces from Gaza. On 20 January, a Palestinian farmer was killed by Israeli gunfire east of Jabalia. A number of mortars were also fired from Palestine towards Israel, though no damage was reported. Since 27 December, over 600 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. In the wake of the intensive fighting, the current priority in Gaza is to assess needs and damages while continuing to provide urgently needed assistance. On 21 January, the IFRC reported that, “humanitarian needs remain extremely acute,” and UNDP warned that there will be long-term consequences of the latest conflict, which affected the livelihoods and assets of tens of thousands of Gazans.
2. During a mission to Gaza on 20 January, the UN Secretary General noted that the fraction of the damage he witnessed was, “shocking and alarming,” and that he was sobered by the, “relief and recovery challenges ahead”. He also condemned the attacks on civilians by both parties to the conflict and re-emphasized that, “international humanitarian law must be upheld and respected by all”. He underscored that he is, “concerned about the potential long-term impact of the recent crisis on the entire society, and particularly [on] young children”.
3. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator arrived in Jerusalem on 21 January for a four-day mission to review humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). He will initiate an assessment of humanitarian needs in Gaza on 22 January.
4. A Flash Appeal is being developed based on ongoing assessments. The Appeal will include revisions of projects that exist in the 2009 Consolidated Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as additional projects to respond to new needs. The document will be launched in early February.
5. According to a rapid assessment of the humanitarian situation in Gaza (based on phone interviews with 525 people), CARE reported that more than half of the respondents (56 percent) were hosting displaced people. Approximately one third of those surveyed indicated that water was their most urgent need and 71 percent reported that they had problems accessing clean water. Half of those surveyed underscored that access to cash was their priority need.
2.1 Coordination and Humanitarian Response
6. Two Palestinian children were killed by unexploded ordnance (UXOs) east of Gaza City on 20 January, underscoring the serious protection concerns posed by the proliferation of UXOs and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Gaza. On 21 January, the ICRC highlighted that UXOs and ERW represent another, “major new danger” in Gaza. ICRC outlined that “the fact that Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world makes the problem of unexploded munitions even more acute” and related security risks could cause delays in carrying out urgently needed humanitarian work.
7. Casualty figures: