GAZA SITUATION REPORT 56
02 September 2014 | issue 56
The next update will be issued Thursday 4 September 2014 and from then onwards bi-weekly Monday & Thursday.
UPDATE AS OF 1600 HRS
The number of displaced in UNRWA schools remains higher than the number of displaced sheltered during the peak of the hostilities from 27 December 2008 to 19 January 2009. 31 UNRWA school buildings – every fifth building – continue to serve as collective centres, sheltering 58,217 displaced.
Past 24 hours: The overall situation in Gaza remains calm. At 0600hrs, the Israeli navy opened fire towards Palestinian boats northwest of Rafah, forcing them ashore
Coordinating more than thirty truckloads of vital supplies is all in a day’s work for Wafa Nassman and her colleagues. As a Logistics Assistant at UNRWA in Gaza, Wafa has expanded on her usual role and responsibilities to facilitate customs requirements, navigate crossings and help coordinate the distribution of supplies such as food, water, fuel, mattresses and other emergency items into and across Gaza.
“I am responsible for coordinating the shipment of food and non-food commodities via trucks into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, the only functioning border crossing with Israel, and through the West Bank checkpoints, for example for the bread we have to bring in from Hebron” explained Wafa. “The process starts from submitting clearance requests for the items, drafting correspondence for the relevant authorities, following up on approvals and coordinating requests with trucks that cross terminals the next day.”
The logistics teams’ role does not stop there. They are also responsible for the loading and transporting of cargo into warehouses in Gaza and finally, for distribution to governorates.
Since the emergency was declared on 8 July, Wafa has been working every day as part of a three-person team at the Central Operations Room in Gaza City. With her two male colleagues, Wafa helps maintain continuous communication and follow ups to ensure goods are delivered to internally displaced persons in UNRWA shelters as quickly and efficiently as possible.“I took on additional responsibilities due to the emergency. This has included preparing security clearances for the movement of UNRWA vehicles and trucks inside the Gaza Strip at the height of hostilities, as well as all follow up and management of the trucks to ensure each vehicle makes it safely to their destinations and delivers aid items right on time.”
To achieve the scale of response required to deliver vital supplies to the nearly 300,000 displaced in UNRWA shelters, as well as continue to provide the Agency’s regular services to over 1.2 million Palestinian refugees, including regular food aid to some 830,000 beneficiaries, requires more than 33 trucks, 52 drivers, 150 packers and 160 loaders – all of whom work daily on the Gaza emergency response.
To support the positioning of goods to reach shelters in each governorate, UNRWA has established interim warehousing options to enable to it to expand the capacity of the existing warehouses located in Rafah and Gaza City.
During hostilities all movements are also coordinated in advance with the Israeli authorities in an effort to secure safe passages between points. Security concerns have intermittently limited UNRWA’s ability to deliver – particularly during days when areas such as Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, Jabalia, Toffah, Rafah and the entire Gaza Strip East of Salah Al Din road were closed due to insecurity.
However, despite the hostilities, the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed only one working day since early July. Due to the urgency of delivering humanitarian assistance, the crossing has been opened all through the Eid holidays and on most Fridays.
Despite some of the challenges, Wafa finds her role very meaningful. “I find dispatching the food commodities to UNRWA shelters, where they are expecting protection and care, is the most important part of my job; I think of every one of them - especially the children, women, and elderly - getting the minimum of what they deserve. All this motivates me to do keep on and stick to my commitment to the Palestine Refugees,” she said.
Wafa Nassman joined UNRWA in December 2008, only two weeks before the 2008/09 hostilities started in Gaza, with UNRWA sheltering over 50,000 displaced. She worked with the Emergency Response Team in a similar role as her job today. Wafa gained experience in coordination and logistics then, and again in the conflict of 2012. As with all of UNRWA’s staff, Wafa is personally affected by the war and hopes that the crisis will soon end. “I was affected exactly like all Palestinians in Gaza. My family and I faced the same fear and the same suffering. We all know, whenever a person feels unsafe, she or he runs to their home as we believe it should be the safest place, but for me and everyone in Gaza there was no safe place,” she reflected.
UNRWA has lost eleven personnel since 8 July. Many UNRWA staff risked their lives by reporting to work every day during hostilities, and the logistics team is no different. “Every day I went to the office, although I was concerned about my life. Giving from my side was to leave my family, and I made my way to the office with other colleagues to continue the efforts we all started together to avoid any delay in delivering humanitarian aid. I received all the support from my family which made me keep going on in this role and they were very worried about me … every night I still come home I thank God that I still have a house and my family are safe and look forward to another day of giving.”
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 110 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.
The revised flash appeal can be found here.