This report covers the UNRWA oPt Emergency Appeal during the period January to June 2015. It is intended to provide a snapshot update on results achieved as measured against selected key indicators included in the oPt Emergency Appeal (EA) 2015. The Annual Report, to be issued in April 2016, will provide a comprehensive accounting of results achieved against the full range of indicators contained within the Appeal.
In Gaza, both the political and security situation remained volatile during the reporting period. One year after the summer 2014 hostilities, which resulted in unprecedented devastation and mass displacement, internally displaced people residing in UNRWA collective centres have all secured alternative accommodation. Yet it is estimated that 100,000 people remain displaced and are accommodated with host families, in rented apartments, in prefabricated units or in the rubble of their previous homes.
The root causes of the conflict remain unaddressed. The land, air and sea blockade of Gaza entered its ninth year in June 2015. While there has been a partial easing of export restrictions, its impact on the economy and the population of the Gaza Strip has not been tangible. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) data shows slightly better economic performance in the first months of 2015; however, all economic indicators are worse than before the conflict. The unemployment rate in 2015 reached 41.6 per cent, one of the highest worldwide. Food insecurity, already at very high levels before the conflict, is expected to increase, especially for households whose homes, productive assets and employment were lost.
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, there were no significant changes to the political and socioeconomic situation during the first half of 2015. Palestine refugees continued to be negatively affected by occupation-related policies and practices imposed by the Israeli authorities, resulting in protection issues, socioeconomic impacts, and ongoing access and movement restrictions. Palestine refugees in the West Bank continue to experience high levels of food insecurity, with those living in camps being particularly affected. Demolitions and forced displacement, especially affecting Bedouin communities in Area C, peaked during the months of January and March. In parallel, Israel continued to implement plans for alternative sites for these communities in the central West Bank, exacerbating concerns that the communities are targeted for relocation, contrary to the prohibition of forcible transfer under international law. Between January and June 2015, a total of 13 Palestinians (including two children), of whom three were Palestine refugees, were reportedly killed by Israeli forces and settlers.
The UNRWA Response
UNRWA provided emergency food assistance to 779,665 Palestine refugees in Gaza during the first half of 2015. Funding constraints meant that the school feeding programme was unable to operate, and additional food assistance could not be provided to pregnant women and children less than two years of age.
During the second semester of the 2014/15 school year, 240,413 children continued to receive quality education from 8,125 UNRWA teachers in 252 schools, and 25,579 students attended the Summer Learning Programme. UNRWA provided counselling and support through specialized trainings to 7,933 teachers, in an effort to improve their coping mechanisms and counter post-traumatic stress associated with the 2014 conflict. In addition, over 8,000 teachers were provided with training in explosive remnants of war risk education.
A total of 2,058,2801 medical consultations were provided during the reporting period in Gaza. By way of mitigating against the effects of the 2014 conflict, individual counselling services were provided to 3,043 refugee children, while 4,441 group counselling sessions benefited a further 35,528 students. Psychosocial counsellors were placed in 250 schools, health centres, and relief and social services (RSS) offices.
The UNRWA Job Creation Programme generated 344,011 employment days during the reporting period, equalling 1,194 full-time positions and translating into US$ 3,781,923 in wage income entering the Gaza economy. In cooperation with relevant Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) authorities, UNRWA also ensured the functioning of water supply, wastewater treatment and waste management services.
A total of 9,160 refugee families whose homes were rendered uninhabitable by the conflict were provided with transitional shelter cash assistance, while 71,971 refugee families received cash grants for minor repairs to their damaged shelters.
During the first half of 2015 in the West Bank, 45,932 food-insecure refugees benefited from the electronic food voucher programme, which allowed them to purchase basic food items. Further assistance was provided through the short-term Cash-for-Work programme, which provided cash subsidies to 4,078 food-insecure households comprising 24,216 individuals.
During the reporting period, the six UNRWA mobile health clinics in the West Bank delivered primary health care services to 117,201 people during 911 visits to communities that face access restrictions. To mitigate against the effects of forced displacement and other protection incidents affecting Bedouin communities, 5,117 participants benefited from 398 group psychosocial activities, and 942 participants benefited from individual, group and family counselling. As a direct response to residential demolitions or violence and/or damage to private property, 445 Palestine refugee families (2,552 individuals) received emergency assistance.
In the first half of the year, a total of 494 neutrality inspections of the Agency's 248 operating installations were undertaken in the West Bank. UNRWA also delivered 17 workshops whereby 340 UNRWA staff members were trained to respect United Nations principles of neutrality, including on the use of social media.
During the reporting period, 47 protection incidents were monitored and documented. Twenty-six incidents involved Israeli security forces or settlers, including four incidents resulting in the deaths of four Palestine refugees and 14 incidents in which injuries to Palestine refugees were documented. Only 38 per cent of all documented incidents were presented to the relevant Israeli authorities, mainly due to non-transmissibility; of those, an estimated 39 per cent of cases resulted in action being taken by the relevant authorities. UNRWA also organized 63 field briefings to raise awareness on international protection issues.
1Please note that the number of medical consultations (covered under the UNRWA General Fund) is listed by way of providing general context to the overall narrative.