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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
16 May 2008



Gaza Strip Inter-Agency Humanitarian Fact Sheet

April 2008


Israeli restrictions on fuel supplies to Gaza peaked in April when Israel halted supplies of diesel, petrol and cooking gas (LPG) to Gaza. UNRWA was forced to suspend its food distribution to 650,000 beneficiaries for four days due to the lack of fuel. Limited supplies of cooking gas and industrial diesel resumed before the end of the month.

Market prices increased significantly in the month of April. Tomato prices, for example, rose 156%.

On April 9, Gazan militants attacked the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, killing two employees. The Kerem Shalom goods crossing was also attacked on April 18.

Israeli military incursions into Gaza occurred almost every day in April, killing 21 children - the most notable being four young siblings and their mother (Muiser Mueteq) who were killed in Beit Hanoun on April 28. During these incursions, the IDF arrested 181 Palestinians from Gaza. Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets and mortars to Israel.


FOOD (WFP, UNRWA)

· Due to lack of fuel,UNRWA was forced to suspend its food distribution to 650,000 beneficiaries from April 25 – 29. Fuel continues to threaten food distribution, including to 110,000 children in UNRWA schools as contractors do not have adequate supplies of fuel to transport food from the crossings to the warehouses, packing centres, distribution centres, or schools.

· Market Prices: The price of 1 kg of Egyptian rice increased by 14 per cent compared to the previous month (from 3.5 to 4 NIS) due to the export ban imposed by the Egyptian government. The price of tomatoes is still very high: 3.2 NIS per 1 kg compared to 1.25 NIS a month earlier, a record increase of 156 per cent. The price of wheat flour remained stable at 130 NIS per 50 kg bag over the month.

· More than 70 per cent of agricultural wells in Gaza rely on diesel to power water pumps.As a result, many farmers have stopped watering their crops. Some have harvested crops prematurely, while other crops have died.

· WFP surveyed the impact of the fuel crisis on 16 institutions that care for the sick and disabled. 11 out of 16 had either no cooking gas or stocks for up to one week. Four have stopped providing hot meals for beneficiaries. Out of the 11 institutions, five hospitals had between 50 and 100 per cent of ambulances immobilized because of the lack of the fuel.The four day care centres could not transport beneficiaries to their places of operation.

· Thirty-seven UNRWA schools participating in the school-feeding programme were affected by a lack of cooking gas, altering their food provisions to students.

· Food assistance cost UNRWA less than 8 USD per person in 2004, and costs 20 USD today.

HEALTH (WHO)

· As a result of fuel shortages, three hospitals in sourthern Gaza - Nasser, Gaza European and Yousef Najar - and the Aqsa Martyrs hospital in central Gaza, suspended all elective surgical operations in the last two weeks of April.

· Shifa and Nasser hospitals reduced the capacity of their laundry rooms by 50 per cent in the last week of April.

· 162 patients are currently under treatment at Intensive Care Units, Cardiac Care Units and Special Care Baby Units in MoH hospitals throughout Gaza. A total of 4 12 patients are receiving dialysis treatment throughout Gaza. If there is no electrical supply and fuel for emergency generators, these persons cannot continue receiving treatment.

· The number of visitors to out-patient departments dropped by 29 per cent because patients had no transport to the hospitals.

· Of the 1,077 patients who applied for permits to cross the Erez crossing for treatment in April, 54 (5.0%) had their applications denied and 3 14 (29.2%) were still awaiting approval.

· 622 patients crossed Erez for treatment in Israel, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in April.

· 54 patients who were scheduled to travel to Jordan and Egypt for treatment were denied permission to leave Gaza on 15, 16 and 17 April.

WATER AND SANITATION (UNICEF)

· According to CMWU, 30 per cent of Gazans have access to running water for four to eight hours once every week, 40 per cent once every four days and 30 per cent once every two days.

· The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) has no fuel to power generators to pump sewage or fresh water. They received no fuel in April.

· Around 80 million litres of raw and partially treated sewage is dumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day, via outlets in Rafah,Wadi Gaza, by the former settlement of Netzarim, Gaza City harbour and Beach Camp.

· Sewage flows into overflow lagoons in Jabalia Camp, Sheikh Redwan, and Gaza City during times of power cuts and is pumped out when the electrical supply resumes.This leaves a large surface area of sewage and sludge in densely populated residential areas at all times.

· Sewage flowed from Ascoolah pumping station in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City on April 30, flooding nearby groves and streets.

· The fuel shortage has affected fifteen water wells that use diesel generators to pump water. These have not been operational since mid April, resulting in reduction in the water supply. As a result, 150,000 persons do not have regular access to drinking water in Gaza City and the central Gaza Strip.

· In April, CMWU were allowed to receive their first delivery of spare parts since June 2007 including three water treatment pumps, four mobile electric generators, two turbine pumps, a suction strainer and motor and water testing kits.

· CMWU has yet to receive the hydrochloric acid (HCL) it needs to operate its desalination plant for brackish water in the middle area.The plant serves about 100,000 people. CMWU currently replaces the one ton per month it needs with citric acid, which damages the pump filter membranes.

· Municipal rubbish collection has been paralysed by the fuel shortage. Rubbish all over Gaza has been collected by animal carts during April.The collected rubbish has been dumped at transfer stations but often cannot be transferred to landfill sites due to the lack of fuel.

· UNICEF donated 60 bicycles to CMWU to increase their mobility in the absence of public transport and fuel for their vehicles.

PSYCHOSOCIAL (UNICEF, UNRWA)

· Bureij Incursion 11 April 2008. Main symptoms of cases who received individual counseling by Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution teams were: fears (40%), behavioral disorders (26%), psychosocial disorders (50%) and speech difficulties (10%).

· Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, teams conducted the following interventions:

· 254 affected families were visited.

· 215 children attended group counseling sessions.

· 50 children received individual counseling in the temporary counseling point in Bureij Camp.


PARTICIPATING AGENCIES: United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); World Health Organization (WHO); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); World Food Programme (WFP)


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