- The United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, visited the Gaza Strip on 28 June, joined by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl as well as the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov. As part of his visit, he went to the UNRWA Zaitoun Elementary Co-ed D school in Gaza city where he gave a press statement. “They [Palestinians] are enduring enormously difficult living conditions. The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts. It is a collective punishment for which there must be accountability,” the Secretary General said. “This situation cannot continue. It feeds anger and despair. It increases the danger of a new escalation of hostilities, which can only bring further suffering to the people of Gaza,” he added. Mr. Ban also paid tribute to the UN staff who had lost their lives in the line of duty in Gaza. After the press statement, the UN Secretary-General addressed UN staff working in Gaza in a town hall meeting held at the UNRWA school next door. In the meeting he talked about the situation in Gaza and mentioned that the international community needs a better understanding of the psychological consequences of the physical destruction in Gaza. He commended the courage and bravery of UN staff in Gaza, particularly during the devastating 2014 conflict. To listen to the voices of Palestine refugee youth in Gaza, Mr. Ban also met with representatives of the UNRWA central school parliament who explained to him their activities, initiatives and achievements, as well as the reality of life under blockade. Parliament representative also had the chance to ask direct questions. This was the fourth visit of the UN Secretary General to Gaza, and his eleventh visit to Palestine during his ten year term; Mr. Ban last visited the coastal enclave in October 2014, following the summer conflict. He had then described the destruction in Gaza as “beyond description.” Mr. Ban took office as Secretary-General in 2007; he will retire at the end of 2016.
- To update donors on the Emergency Appeal funding status for 2016, the Directors of UNRWA Operations in Gaza and the West Bank, Mr. Bo Schack and Mr. Scott Anderson, as well as Deputy Director of Operations in Gaza, Ms. Melinda Young, met with key donors in Jerusalem on 23 June. The UNRWA representatives described the challenges, impact and consequences of underfunding. 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. At the moment, only 40 per cent of the EA for 2016 is funded; the Community Mental Health Programme in Gaza for example faces a US$ 4 million critical funding gap, and to continue with transitional shelter cash assistance (TSCA) through its emergency shelter programme, UNRWA needs to close a critical funding gap of US$ 12 million. Moreover, in light of ever more difficult socio-economic conditions in Gaza related to the blockade, UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme faces a critical funding gap of US$ 9 million for 2016; eligible beneficiaries currently need to wait six full years until they get a job opportunity. Overall in the EA, the Agency requires for its operations in Gaza 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.
- To maintain close community links and ensure a continued two-way dialogue between UNRWA and its beneficiaries, on 20 June the Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations, Mr. David de Bold, conducted his second quarterly outreach meeting for Palestine refugee committees (PRC) in the Gaza Middle Area, in cooperation with the Chief of Middle Area as well representatives from the UNRWA Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme (ICIP) and the Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP). During the meeting, UNRWA updated the PRCs on its services and programmes, and the committee members had the chance to raise concerns and questions, and give feedback. The main topics discussed were the UNRWA Poverty Assessment System, the new UNRWA food baskets, the inclusion criteria for the 2014 conflict reconstruction caseload, the Deir El Balah camp improvement project as well as classroom formation projections for the new scholastic year 2016-2017. UNRWA established Chief of Area Offices (CAOs) in all five governorates of Gaza in 2010; CAOs have an UNRWA representative function at the area level. They liaise with government authorities, refugee community representatives and humanitarian organizations on the general application of Agency policies and programmes, as well as other issues of interest to the Agency such as the security situation as it affects UNRWA operations, and any incidents affecting the humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees.
- As part of the outreach campaign related to the new UNRWA food baskets, UNRWA Gaza Communications has produced a new cooking show based on the ingredients in the new UNRWA food baskets, in addition to apromotional episode featuring UNRWA students and the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack (all episodes are in Arabic). All recipes are based on the ingredients of the new food baskets, for example sardine-curry puffs, stuffed vegetables, red lentils with tomatoes, or spinach-cheese pie, and aim at providing UNRAWA’s beneficiaries with creative and low-cost ideas on how to use the food basket ingredients. The show also includes “how to” segments, for example how to bake bread or prepare pastries using the UNRWA flour, or how to make cheese and yoghurt using the UNRWA milk powder. The episodes will be shown successively on UNRWA TV and be available on its associated You Tube channel.
- The work of over 140 young Palestinian artists who have started to paint the walls of 270 UNRWA installations located across Gaza in February this year is coming to an end this month. The activity was a joint project between the Maintenance Division of the UNRWA Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme (ICIP) and the Education Programme, under the facilitation of the UNRWA Operations Support Office. The initiative provided temporary job-opportunities for youth and added visual beauty to everyday life in Gaza. “Palestinian heritage is really rich, and we are trying through these murals to encourage everyone who is passing by to look at these murals and value and remember this heritage,” commented one of the artists, Samaher Sa’ad, on her participation. A short film on the activity – titled ‘Colours for Gaza’ and produced by UNRWA TV - can be viewed here.
- UNRWA was able to disburse over US$ 4.5 million for reconstruction (US$ 4,135,306 million) and severe repair works (US$ 390,286). The funds will reach a total of 412 refugee families across the Gaza Strip; they accessed their assistance this week.
|Overview of assistance disbursed|
As of 22 June 2016:
- The UNRWA shelter assessment confirmed 142,071 Palestine refugee houses as impacted during the 2014 conflict; 9,117 of them are considered totally demolished. 5,417 shelters have suffered severe, 3,700 major and 123,837 minor damages.
- Since the start of the 2014 emergency shelter response, the Agency has distributed over US$ 188.8 million(excluding Programme Support Costs) to Palestine refugee families whose homes were damaged or destroyed during the 2014 summer conflict.
Completed and ongoing payments as of 22 June 2016:
As of 22 June 2016:
- UNRWA has completed the payments to over 67,000 refugee families for minor repair works, to 13 families for major repair works, for 3,066 families to repair their severely damaged shelters, and to 137 families for reconstruction.
- Payment transfers for 11,653 refugee families to continue repair works of their shelters and for 960 families to continue the reconstruction of their shelters are ongoing.
- 13,250 families have received a rental subsidy payment to cover the period from September to December 2014. Disbursement of subsequent instalments entailed further eligibility checks through which over 9,900 families have received the relevant rental subsidy payments during the period from January to December 2015. Approximately 8,000 families have received the first tranche of rental subsidy payments for 2016.
Funding gaps and needs – repair works
For repairs of damages of all categories (minor, major and severe), the principal barrier to completing the outstanding repairs is funding. If current conditions remain, including adequate amounts of building material entering Gaza, UNRWA estimates that repairs could be completed within six months from receipt of sufficient funding.
As of 22 June 2016:
- Over 60,200 families have not received any payments to undertake repair works for their minor damaged homes (total estimate repair costs: US$ 68 million).
- 3,192 families have not received any payments to repair or start repairing their major damaged homes (total estimate repair costs: US$ 28.7 million),
- Payments to 1,110 families to repair or start repairing their severely damaged homes are outstanding (total estimate costs: US$ 9.9 million).
- Out of these, UNRWA has processed the documents of approximately 56,900 families with damaged shelters and could disburse payments (first and second tranche payments) to these families immediately upon receipt of funding.
Funding gaps and needs – reconstruction
UNRWA has secured funding to reconstruct 2,000 totally destroyed homes. Funding is currently not the biggest barrier to reconstruct homes, rather it is the complex documentation requirements related to proving title to land, obtaining building and municipal permits and finalizing building design coupled with UNRWA vulnerability targeting. For all reconstruction, UNRWA prioritizes families based on poverty status (an excellent indicator for vulnerability in this context) and larger families, unlike other reconstruction actors in Gaza. In order to mitigate this barrier, UNRWA outreach engineers assist eligible families in gathering relevant documentation. With the increase in reconstruction momentum anticipated in the coming months, funding will become a key factor again in the near to medium-term future.
As of 22 June 2016:
- Payments to 6,303 refugee families to start repairing their totally destroyed homes are outstanding.
- The total costs of reconstructing their homes amounts to approximately US$ 283.6 million
Funding gaps and needs – rental subsidy payments
As of 22 June 2016:
- Approximately 8,000 refugee families still displaced by the 2014 conflict have not received transitional shelter cash assistance (TSCA) for the second quarter in in 2016.
- The US$ 23.3 million in TSCA needed to assist the 2014 conflict emergency caseload in 2016 has been included in the oPt Emergency Appeal 2016.
BLOCKADE ON GAZA
In June 2016, the blockade on Gaza entered its tenth year. The United Nations has repeatedly highlighted the illegality of the blockade as a form of collective punishment under international law and called for the lifting of the blockade, which continues to hamper freedom of movement of persons and goods. The blockade, in addition to recurrent armed violence and conflict, today remains the principle causes of the socio-economic and psychosocial crisis in Gaza. The restrictions on movement of people and goods continue to collectively punish the civilian population, affecting every aspect of life in Gaza, undermining the local economy and threatening the enjoyment of most human rights, in clear violation of Israel’s legal obligations under international law. In addition, since restrictions have been imposed by the Egyptian authorities from June 2013 onwards, also the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains closed except for a few days per year.
Regular protests took place during the reporting week, predominantly in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Protests also took place against UNRWA to demand housing.
On 21 June, a Palestinian was reportedly arrested by Israeli forces at Erez crossing while reportedly returning to Gaza.
On 21 June, a dispute reportedly took place between members of a family in Sabra area, Gaza city; the family members reportedly used fire arms and one female was reported killed and ten other members injured. The police reportedly intervened and brought the situation under control.
On 25 June, a dispute between members of a family in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, was reported; the members reportedly used fire arms. No injuries were reported. The police reportedly arrested several persons.
On 26 June, a dispute reportedly broke out between family members in Sabra area, Gaza city. The members reportedly used fire arms. One injury was reported. The police reportedly made several arrests.
On 24 June, an UNRWA area staff member was seriously injured, in addition to the injury of four other persons, in a traffic accident with a private car. The area staff member died of his injuries on the same day. UNRWA expresses its sincere condolences to his family and friends.
On 25 June, one woman was reportedly found killed in her house in Gaza city; the crime reportedly took place two days ago when an unknown person broke into her house. The police opened an investigation.
On 26 June, a fire broke out in an apartment in Deir El Balah, central Gaza, reportedly due to electricity malfunction. The apartment sustained damage but no injuries were reported.
The UNRWA Central School Parliament to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
“We don’t want more than to live in peace, the same as other people in the world”
The UN Secretary-General during his discussion with the UNRWA central school parliament on 28 June. Photo credit: ©UNRWA Gaza 2016. Photo by Tamer Hamam.
On 28 June 2016, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon visited Gaza and met the 15 members of the UNRWA central school parliament in the Zaitoun Preparatory Girls B school in Gaza city. The meeting gave the students the chance to represent the Palestinian youth in Gaza to the top diplomat of the United Nations, and to the world.
Before the meeting, 15-year old Razan Al Daboos, the head of the central school parliament, said that she was looking forward to meeting Mr. Ban “because it gives me the chance to raise my voice and speak on behalf of the Gaza youth. We have been living under a tight blockade for nine years, and I want to directly raise our struggle to the Secretary-General.”
When the students finally met the Secretary General, Razan first explained to him the idea behind UNRWA school parliaments, their activities, plans, and their challenges. Her colleague, 15-year old Mohammad Kafarna, then talked about his personal experience living in Gaza, through three armed conflicts and under a tight blockade on air, land and sea. He explained to Mr. Ban how much the young people in Gaza live in frustration and that many of them are losing their hopes and dreams.
“We have high unemployment rates, closed borders, no electricity, no hopes, no dreams, and many people are sick and desperately waiting to get a permit to leave Gaza and get treatment,” Mohammad said. “As youth we believe education is our only way out. We don’t ask for more than to live in peace the same as other people do all over the world,” he added.
Mr. Ban expressed his pride about the school parliament and the issues they raised with him. He also told the students about his own life as a boy in Korea, when his school was destroyed and he had to study on the floor. “It was the UN that provided us with new schools so we could continue studying; and look, one of these poor children is now the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” he said. “You should keep working hard and maybe one day you will become Secretary-General as well,” he added.
Another issue raised by the school parliament to the Secretary General was about how Gaza’s youth can contribute to the development of the global society:
“As young people, we want to contribute to the development of the global society. Yet in Gaza, we are limited and we have difficulties to connect with others. What do you see as the role of youth in contributing to global development? And what can youth in Gaza do despite the limitations?” asked Mohammad.
The Secretary General said that the UN, together with the governments of Israel and Palestine, has been trying to find a solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict for over 60 years. “You must know that many communities and countries, and parliaments around the world, support you,” he said. And added: “it is important that you become good citizens and contribute towards development, security and peace in your own country.”
School parliaments promote a culture of human rights in schools and strengthen democratic practices and life among students. They also teach children civil and social skills, including leadership, participation, decision-making and communication. The electoral process helps students understand the values needed for practising elections, such as forgiveness, conflict resolution, dialogue and self-confidence. Parliament membership is open to students in grades 7 to 9, who can campaign using various methods, including banners and school radio broadcasts.
|SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS|
During the reporting week, Israeli forces reportedly fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on a daily basis.
On 20 June, militants reportedly fired one test rocket from Khan Younis, southern Gaza, towards the sea. No injuries were reported.
On 22 June, militants reportedly fired two test rockets from Kahn Younis towards the sea. No injuries were reported.
On 25 June, militants reportedly fired two test rockets from Khan Younis towards the sea. No injuries were reported.
|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 emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.|
Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 247 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$ 473 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 remained 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 21 to 23 June and on 26 and 27 June. On 24 June it was open for pedestrians only. It was closed on 25 June.
- 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 from 21 to 23 June and on 26 and 27. It was closed on 24 and 25 June.