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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
27 January 2009


QUICK-RESPONSE PLAN TO RESTORE

CRITICAL SERVICES TO REFUGEES IN GAZA

January - September 2009



Introduction
On 27 December 2008, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an intensive military operation in the Gaza Strip (Operation Cast Lead), with heavy artillery and air bombardments and a subsequent ground force incursion. By the time Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on 18 January 2009, an estimated 1,300 Palestinians had been killed and 5,015 wounded, according to Palestinian Ministry of Health estimates. Amongst the casualties are large numbers of civilians, including an estimated 410 children killed and 1,855 injured. Many will require lifelong assistance and care. Than bombing campaign caused extensive internal displacement of the civilian population with more than 50,000 people seeking refuge in 50 UNRWA schools. There has also been widespread destruction of homes and public and commercial infrastructure across Gaza.

IDF Operation Cast Lead has wrought unprecedented devastation and hardship on an already impoverished population, compounding the effects of an 18 month blockade and tight regime of closures and restrictions on movement that date back to the early 1990s.

Since the start of the IDF operation, UNRWA has continued to assist and protect Palestine refugees, who represent over 1,000,000 of the 1,400,000 residents of Gaza, including through delivery of food aid and provision of temporary shelter. Assistance has also been extended to needy non-refugees, in close coordination with other aid partners. With a ceasefire now in place, UNRWA is urgently seeking funds to meet the costs of restoring full service provision in Gaza as soon as possible and to address the immediate post conflict needs of affected families. Initiatives are also planned in support of longer-term recovery efforts.

"Day-after" responsiveness
This interim plan outlines funding needs over the coming nine months (January - September 2009), i.e. until the start of the 2009 - 2010 school year. Financial requirements are preliminary, based on the best available information at this time and key assumptions about the operating environment in Gaza in the post-conflict phase. As more detailed needs assessments are conducted in the coming weeks and months, UNRWA will update its plans accordingly.

The Agency estimates that these financial requirements represent only a portion of total cost of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities that will be needed in Gaza in the aftermath of the recent conflict. Funding needs for early recovery are likewise likely to increase once UNRWA is able to complete the process of post conflict assessments of needs and damages, which are being fully coordinated with other relief partners. Where appropriate, budget estimates below incorporate earlier requirements detailed in the UNRWA Flash Appeal. Total funding requirements between January and September 2009 are estimated at US$345.9 million.

Operational priorities are outlined below. These include additional requirements to restart UNRWA’s regular activities as well as expanded emergency programmes and other interventions that will lay the ground for the longer term recovery plan that will be needed to rebuild the lives and homes of Palestinians in Gaza. UNRWA’s Quick Response Plan incorporates all of the Agency’s emergency funding needs in Gaza between January - September 2009, in effect superseding the 2009 Emergency Appeal for this period, and the UNRWA Gaza Flash Appeal, which was launched in early January. Ongoing and planned emergency interventions, as outlined in those plans, have been adjusted and expanded to meet the increasing needs arising from the recent conflict; where necessary, for example in the education sector, new interventions have been developed. Additional financial requirements for emergency activities, above and beyond provisions made in the 2009 Emergency Appeal and UNRWA Gaza Flash Appeal, are in excess of $120m.

This plan will be revised at mid-year point, as part of the review process for the OCHA Flash Appeal. The review process will include the elaboration of programme plans for the period October-December 2009 and their integration into the 2009 CAP / Emergency Appeal for the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Early funding for the activities outlined in this plan is crucial, to ensure that UNRWA is able to discharge its mandate effectively and meet refugees’ most urgent humanitarian and early recovery needs. Assistance efforts are being planned on a rolling basis in a very fluid operating environment and require that UNRWA is able to respond flexibly to pressing needs, as and when they emerge. UNRWA would therefore request that donors afford the Agency maximum flexibility in this respect.

All interventions described below will form part of the broader OCHA Gaza Flash Appeal, which will be coordinated under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Office of the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, and which is currently under preparation.

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