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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
12 October 2016


12 October 2016

4 October - 11 October 2016 | Issue 165

“It is important to hear from people and disseminate their voices and experiences; it helps us better understand the needs of refugees and provide better services.”
Isra’a Al Modalal, presenter UNRWA health talk show. Read more here.


• To On the occasion of World Teacher Day 2016, and under the theme of “empowered teachers and sustainable societies”, UNRWA celebrates the progress achieved to date in the Education Reform Strategy, particularly in terms of improved academic achievements of students and staff performance. The strategy, which was launched in 2011 across all five fields of operation, aims at providing quality education to Palestine refugees with a focus on three key roles: students, teachers and school principals. The UNRWA Education Reform Strategy is based on two programmes: The “Transforming Classrooms” programme of School-Based Teacher Development that enables teachers to improve classroom practices away from traditional lecturing systems; and the “Leading for the Future” management training for senior education staff. Both are part of the joint UNESCO and UNRWA Education Programme Reform Strategy, which has been designed to reinforce the Agency’s broader human development and humanitarian agenda. The reform is key to ensuring that UNRWA maintains and strengthens its renowned quality of education for Palestine refugee children. Central to this quality are UNRWA teachers and school principals. This all serves to work towards global Sustainable Development Goal number four, which calls for ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning.

• The UNRWA Health Programme (HP) is continuing with its breast cancer outreach activities, including consultations, the distribution of brochures, and information sessions for refugee women. The programme also awarded service contracts to two medical centres in Gaza to be able to refer its patients to undertake a mammogram. In total, during September around 8,500 women undertook clinical breast cancer examination at UNRWA Health Centres, 1,700 cases were referred to the two medical centres, and 9 cases were confirmed with breast cancer. The programme also continued with its capacity building programme for 469 staff, predominantly on pediatrics. Further, the HP provided almost 291,500 consultations (curative care only) and specialist services to beneficiaries during September; in addition, the total number of dental consultations stood at almost 35,000, and health staff provided 13,250 physiotherapy patients with treatment sessions. The HP also provides home visits and mobile phone consultations for refugees unable to access health centres physically, such as antenatal or postnatal women, certain children or patients non-communicable diseases. In September, 577 home visits an d 3,350 mobile consultations were provided. UNRWA provides services to monitor and control communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, meningitis or mumps. In September, health centres recorded 1,979 diarrhoea cases of children below five years of age, 121 cases with bloody diarrhoea, 24 patients with viral hepatitis, 22 mumps cases and 13 patients with suspected typhoid fever. All the appropriate public health measures were implemented.

• Communications with Communities (CwC) is an approach within the field of humanitarian response that helps meet the information and communications needs of people affected by protracted and acute crises. Through CwC, UNRWA provides Palestine refugees greater access to the information they need and ensures that their voices are heard and taken into account in decision-making processes related to the provision of humanitarian services. CwC has been a priority for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for a few years. OCHA focuses on ensuring that CwC is integrated into all stages of its core functions, such as needs assessment, strategic planning, and resource mobilization, and on guaranteeing that CwC principles are mainstreamed into the Humanitarian Programme Cycle. As a further step to promote CwC in Gaza, during the reporting week the global OCHA community engagement focal point visited the occupied Palestinian territory and met with various different humanitarian actors, including UNRWA, to discuss and brainstorm on opportunities, challenges and future strategies and possibilities for cooperation. For more information on UNRWA’s CwC activities, please consult the attached fact sheet.

UNRWA and the government of Japan signed an agreement for a contribution of over US$ 4 million to support the Agency’s food assistance in the Gaza Strip for the fifth year in a row. The contribution will allow approximately 100,000 Palestine refugees in Gaza to receive food aid in 2017 and 2018. Given the ongoing blockade, now in its tenth year, and the overall dire socioeconomic conditions in the coastal enclave, food insecurity remains a critical issue in Gaza; UNRWA currently provides food assistance to over 930,000 beneficiaries in four distribution rounds per year. The food baskets include basic necessities, such as wheat flour, pulses, and sunflower oil. Japan continues to be a reliable and consistent supporter of UNRWA; in 2015, Japan was among the top five donors to the Agency’s core programmes and services.

• On 6 October 2016, the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre (GTC) organized a ceremony to launch a new Basic Design Study project which aims at analysing and identifying required skills and potentially available job opportunities for women in the future Gaza labour market. The ceremony took place at the GTC in Gaza city and was attended by Mr. Bo Schack, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, UNRWA senior staff, key stakeholders, employers and managers of large factories from different economic sectors, as well as representatives of local Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. Concretely, the study will analyse the expected job opportunities and growth sectors in Gaza in the coming five to 10 years and assess the effectiveness of the current technical and vocational courses for refugee students in terms of relevancy for the labour market. The project is made possible due to the generosity of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) launched the results of their
‘School to Work Transition Survey’ (SWTS) for 2015. The SWTS is a household survey of young people aged between 15 and 29 to get a detailed picture of youth in the Palestinian labour market; the survey draws attention to the path and duration that young people’s transition from school to work takes and reaches conclusions on characteristics or experiences that make a smoother transition. The survey found that many youth are not benefitting from the education system: 51.5 per cent had at most completed basic education, and 21.9 per cent had not completed any level; at the same time there is an increasing trend towards tertiary level education, with 22.3 per cent completing university in 2015 compared to 19.7 per cent in 2013. None of the surveyed youth with a Bachelor’s degree belonged to a poor household, whereas 21.5 per cent of drop outs did. The main reasons for early school leavers are failed examinations and a lack of interest or belief in the benefit of education. The youth labour force participation rate in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) stands at 41.3 per cent, below the global average of 47.3 per cent; for young women, the rate in 2015 stood at only 16.1 per cent. Generally, the labour market is profoundly influenced by gender issues. Young women benefit to a lesser extent than men from their education in terms of earnings and they experienced a worsening situation on the labour market. Further, the unemployment for youth in the oPt in 2015 was with 32.3 per cent (50.6 per cent in Gaza) one of the highest in the region. Overall, the unemployment rate is increasing in line with the level of completed education: for those with only basic education, the rate stood at 26.8 per cent compared to 42.9 per cent for people with tertiary education. A closer look, however, indicates that this is only true for young women; for young men the unemployment rate actually decreases with higher education. Lastly, at the time of the survey only 16.3 per cent completed their transition to stable or satisfactory employment, with 20.5 per cent in the West Bank compared to only 9.6 per cent in Gaza. Youth from poor households were most likely to remain in transition. The survey does not distinguish between Palestinian youth overall and Palestine refugee youth, e.g. it does not distinguish between youth who benefitted from UNRWA educational services or attended government/private schools.


A shelter update will be provided in the next Gaza situation report.


• During the reporting week, Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on a daily basis. Israeli forces also opened fire at a kite with camera after spotting it crossing from Gaza into Israel.

Militants fired two rockets towards Israel; one exploded on an empty site in Sderot and one in an open area in southern Israel. No injuries or damage were reported. Israeli aircraft fired nine missiles and over 25 shells at various targets in Gaza. No injuries were reported. Also shrapnel from an Egyptian shell fell on and damaged a residential house in southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.

Civilians, mostly youth, continued to protest near the perimeter fence expressing their eagerness to defend Al Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. When some of them approached the perimeter fence and threw stones towards Israeli observation posts, Israeli forces responded with gun fire and teargas. Three persons were injured.

Various other protests were held during the week, in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails or against President Mahmoud Abbas’ attendance of the funeral of the former Israeli president Shimon Peres. Demonstrations were also held to demand job opportunities from UNRWA.

Also during the reporting week, a 9-year old child died and two of her brothers were injured due to an outbreak of fire in their house as a result of electricity malfunction; further, a man died due to an electrical shock in a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border.

Nine Israeli bulldozers entered approximately 50 metres into Gaza to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. They withdrew on the same day.


The UNRWA health talk show
“community-based talk show, from the people for the people”

Presenter Isra’a Al Modalal (right) and nutrition and health specialist Ata Al Qaisi
during the filming of an episode for the upcoming UNRWA health talk show, one
of the projects of the Gaza outreach and communications with communities team.
Photo credit: ©UNRWA Gaza 2016. Photo by Mohammed Hennawi.

The Gaza Outreach and Communications with Communities (CwC) team, part of the Gaza Field’s Communications Office, is currently producing a health talk show to address the most pressing health needs of families, and particularly women, in Gaza. The show features various different health experts as well as patients/survivors. For the development of the script, the CwC team organized focus groups with UNRWA and non-UNRWA doctors and patients to gauge the most important health issues women face in Gaza and to understand their information needs and how they wish to receive information to prevent health risks.

26-year old Isra’a Al Modalal, the presenter of the talk show, said: “In this show we address many different and important health topics which were proposed by the people themselves. In total we have four episodes – in addition to four short background reports – concerning topics such as family planning and reproductive health, breast cancer, gender-based violence, infections, stress release and nutrition.”

Through its CwC activities the UNRWA Gaza Field Communications Office attempts to foster the dialogue between Palestine refugees and the Agency and hence increase the latter’s transparency and accountability.

“Through projects like the health talk show, we raise awareness in the community with the help and support of the community; by addressing important, but not often “talked-about” topics, sharing personal experiences of individuals and listening to the opinion of experts, we try to encourage change,” explained Haneen Atallah, from the Gaza outreach and CwC team.

The health talk show will be broadcast on UNRWA TV and its associated YouTube channel in the coming months.

The outreach and CwC team in Gaza was established in 2015, building on existing community engagement practices within UNRWA and CwC work through the humanitarian response during the 2014 summer conflict. The aim of the team is to provide Palestine refugees with greater access to the information they need and to ensure that their voices are heard and taken into account in decision-making processes related to the provision of humanitarian services. The CwC team has piloted various projects related to CwC, advocacy, awareness, and outreach campaigns targeting Palestine refugees in Gaza. For more information, please consult the attached fact sheet.


UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 74 million. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.

As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2016, the Agency is seeking US$ 403 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt. The Agency requires US$ 355.95 million for programme interventions in Gaza, including US$ 109.7 million for emergency food assistance, US$ 142.3 million for emergency shelter assistance, US$ 60.4 million for emergency cash-for-work assistance, US$ 4.4 million for emergency health/mobile health clinics and US$ 3.1 for education in emergencies. More information can be found here.


Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air. Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travelers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travelers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.

• Rafah crossing was closed during the reporting week.

• Erez crossing is usually open six days a week. This week it was open for National ID holders (humanitarian cases, medical cases, merchants and UN staff) and international staff from 5 and 6 and 9 to11 October. On 7 October it was open for pedestrians only. It was closed on 8 October. It was also closed on 4 and 11 October due to Israeli holidays.

• Kerem Shalom crossing is the only official crossing open for the transfer of goods into and out of the Strip and is usually open five days a week. It was open 5 and 6 and 9 to 11 October. It was closed on 8 and 9 October, and also on 4 and 11 October due to Israeli holidays.

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