While the ceasefire that began on August 27 is holding, the suffering of the civilian population is not over. Gaza's basic infrastructure has been severely damaged or destroyed, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without adequate services including electricity, clean water and quality healthcare. In addition, the proliferation of unexploded weapons across the territory poses life-threatening risks to the population — and to children in particular.
UNICEF's emergency scaled-up response in Gaza is targeting children who attend public schools, under five-year-old children and mothers, and vulnerable households in the most affected communities. UNICEF is currently focusing on supporting affected children and families in shelters, host families, and the communities that have been most severely hit. To respond to the urgent needs of the population, UNICEF has brought in significant additional international surge staff for programme response and cluster coordination.
On 14 September, approximately 230,000 school children returned back to government schools after 3 weeks of delay due to the 50 days of hostilities in the Gaza strip. During the crisis, and after a ceasefire was reached on 26 August, UNICEF worked closely with Education Cluster members including UNRWA, the MoEHE, and partners in preparing for the re-opening of schools.
As part of the Back-To-School initiative, UNICEF:
- 139,563 stationary sets for school children in MoEHE schools. All children in grades 1-9 have received a stationary set.
- 395 teaching aids to 395 schools to enable teachers to work in a more conducive teaching and learning environment. Each aid includes 35 items, including chalk, markers, rulers, scissors, notebooks and etc.
- 623 recreational kits to 395 schools to enable schools to implement recreational activities with school children in the first week of the new academic year and on an ongoing basis.
- 28 early childhood development (ECD) kits to schools that have preschool classes.
- The orientation of about 12,000 school principals, school counsellors, supervisors, and teachers on psychosocial support, the nonviolence in schools policy, detection of traumatized children and referrals. This was achieved through cascade training. 56 school principals and subject supervisors were trained as trainers on the nonviolence in schools policy and on classroom management. They in turn trained 427 school principals and 10,761 teachers. 400 school counselors had a refresher training on psychosocial support in schools and then oriented the teachers in their schools. In total, 184 subject supervisors, 427 school principals, 400 school counselors and 10,761 teachers received training before the start of the new school year. 230,000 school children received psychosocial support and recreational activities in their first week of school.
- Recreational and stress relief activities for 44,131 children in 112 schools all over Gaza strip through MA'AN,TAMER and Al Nayzak in coordination with MoEHE.
- Tankering of safe drinking water to schools (on a daily basis, to serve 76,050 students and 2430 teachers in 124 schools).
In addition, UNICEF is currently organizing:
- Distribution of the remaining 3,700 school bags that are being locally manufactured in Gaza
- Repair of 26 schools that sustained minor damage during the conflict in West Gaza, through ACF. The schools will be rehabilitated by end October.
- Provision of school uniforms and shoes to the most vulnerable children through the joint WFP-UNICEF e-voucher programme. So far, funding has been secured for 15,000 sets of school uniforms and shoes.
An inter-agency Child Protection Rapid Assessment (CPRA) is being carried out by the Gaza Child Protection Working Group led by UNICEF. The assessment will produce an overview of the key child protection risks and vulnerabilities as well as community capacities at this stage of the emergency response. The aim of the assessment is to identify the most urgent child protection needs and priority responses. 8 assessment teams are in the process of completing the data collection, and will interview 174 community leaders at 58 sites across all five Governorates. The communities surveyed include IDPs living in UNRWA shelters, Bedouin communities, IDPs living with host families and members of the community who have either not been displaced or have been able to return home. The assessment scope includes child labour, unaccompanied and separated children, violence against children, dangers in children's physical environment, psychosocial distress, excluded children and access to information, and sexual violence. The assessment findings are expected to be released by 15 October 2014.
22,877 adolescents and children benefited from basic psychosocial support and recreational activities including stress relief and self-expression activities with the support of UNICEF partners MA'AN, TAMER and Al Nayzak in 19 government shelters, 17 community-based organizations and 7 Libraries reaching more children to help them better cope with their experiences of the conflict.
Emergency support to children and caregivers was provided through Sawa Child Protection Helpline reaching 1,254 (740 girls and 514 boys)
Direct psychosocial interventions were provided through the Palestinian Red Crescent Society to 23,134 children, (11,965 girls and 11,180 boys).
A UNICEF-led Task Force on referral and case management continues to meet to identify potential focal points that should be trained to recognize child protection risks. This will contribute to the strengthening and rebuilding of child and family referral networks and case management systems in Gaza.
UNICEF has reached an agreement with Internews to broadcast radio spots on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) to raise awareness on the dangers for children and their families. During the conflict, 1 million people in Gaza were educated on ERW risk through local radio stations.
Water Sanitation and Hygiene
Distribution of 2995 adult hygiene kits and 2000 baby hygiene kits is currently being done by the Ministry of Social Affairs. GVC is distributing 1,000 jerry cans.
Family hygiene kits were distributed to 1,000 families whose homes had been partially or fully damaged in East Khan Younis.
CMWU is continuing urgent repairs of water and sewage pipe systems. UNICEF is finalizing the procurement of water pipes and fittings for CMWU worth US$325,000. Approximately 80% of the items required are available locally in Gaza which will enable rapid procurement and delivery.
PHG and GVC, with UNICEF's support, continue to provide water tankering for drinking water. To date, 4,253 cubic meters of water have been provided to 50,000 individuals. PHG and GVC have also distributed 370 communal tanks in the Middle area of Gaza. In partnership with MA'AN, 14 water bladders have been installed: 6 in Gaza City, 5 in Khan Younis and 3 in Beit Hanoun. In total, these water filling stations will provide water to 71,000 people.
Water tankering for domestic use is ongoing. MA'AN delivered 4,504 cubic meters of water to 31,528 beneficiaries in Gaza City.
Child Health & Nutrition
The Ministry of Health organized 10 workshops on the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) to strengthen vaccination coverage and prevent outbreaks resulting from the crisis. Three training workshops out of 10 have been completed and 70 health workers trained out of 250.
65,429 vials of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) are due to arrive on 7 October. On 10 September, a UNICEF shipment of 90 tons of medical supplies, entered Gaza. This is part of UNICEF's commitment to ensure that hospitals and health facilities are frequently re-stocked with essential drugs, vaccines and supplies. Essential drugs supplied by UNICEF in two shipments since the onset of the hostilities are benefitting around 136,120 patients.
UNICEF is funding Ministry of Health (MoH) Community Health Workers to conduct outreach activities in collective centres. Some 1,483 men, 5,648 women and 3,243 children participated in awareness sessions on communicable diseases in collective shelters and with host families.
Breastfeeding awareness-raising was conducted for 8,159 mothers and their children mothers in shelters and in host families, also by UNICEF-funded MoH Community Health Workers.
MoH teams continued to make home visits to provide postnatal and neonatal care and advice to 1,580 mothers and their neonates. This agreement with MoH is a long-standing one that has been scaled-up to respond to current needs.
UNICEF has entered into a new partnership with the Near East Council of Churches (NECC), currently the only health care provider in Shuja'iyeh since the MOH clinic in the area was totally destroyed. 18 NECC health workers have been trained for post natal home visits.
UNICEF leads the Child Protection Working Group and affiliated groups for mental health and psychosocial sevices (MHPSS), and for monitoring and reporting of grave violations against children (MRM). These groups have been merged to maximise coordination of child protection responses during the emergency.
UNICEF continues to lead the WASH cluster and co-lead the Education cluster with Save the Children, both in Gaza and at the national level, with dedicated staff capacity.
Emergency Operations Centres (EOC) have been established in Gaza and Ramallah.
Sólrún María Ólafsdóttir, M&E and gender specialist, UNICEF, SoP, Jerusalem,
Phone: +972 (0)2 584 0410, mail: email@example.com,