On 17 July, UNRWA launched a Flash Appeal for US$60 million to respond to the immediate needs of those affected by the ongoing emergency in the Gaza Strip. However, the dramatic escalation of the Israeli ground offensive in recent days has resulted in a massive increase in displaced persons with many seeking safety in UNRWA Designated Emergency Shelters (DES), and in significant further damage to homes and other civilian infrastructure. As of 21 July, the number of people taking refuge at the DES's has exceeded 100,000 people. This number continues to increase by the hour.
In response to escalating humanitarian needs, UNRWA has revised its emergency response and expanded it to meet the greater scope of immediate and medium-term needs resulting from the intensified population displacement and infrastructure destruction. UNRWA has thus revisited the requirements presented in the Flash Appeal, and urgently seeks US$ 55 million in addition to the original $60 million. UNRWA now estimates that a total of US$ 115,000,000 is required to provide emergency assistance for up to 150,000 people, through its shelters -- where food, NFIs and psycho-social support are provided- and through health and social service facilities available to those not taking refuge in UNRWA shelters. The funding will also position UNRWA to start early recovery activities immediately upon the cessation of hostilities.
Significant contributions to this appeal will help mitigate the catastrophic impact of this humanitarian crisis on the most vulnerable.
The escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip has entered its third week, resulting in over 100,000 Palestinians being displaced from their homes and taking refuge in 67 UNRWA Designated Emergency Shelters (DES) - and counting. he situation is deteriorating rapidly, and the influx of IDPs is such that all suitable UNRWA schools in Gaza City and the North are now open as shelters and providing assistance to those in need. Additional shelters are open in the Middle, Khan Younis and Rafah governorates.
Movement within the Gaza Strip has been severely restricted as a result of the 3 kilometre “buffer zone” instituted by the Israeli Defense Forces, which encompasses roughly 40 per cent of the entire territory. Despite these movement restrictions and the damage sustained to date to 72 UNRWA installations, UNRWA continues to work towards mitigating the effect of the emergency on individuals, through the provision of basic food rations, drinking water and non-food items to those seeking refuge in its facilities, regardless of their refugee status. Additionally, UNRWA is investing considerable effort to maintain core services, with most health clinics functioning as usual and staff reporting to work as security allows. Food distributions are now fast-tracked in order to expedite food assistance to beneficiaries wherever possible.
Despite a humanitarian pause on 17 July, there is little or no reprieve from the violence still being experienced by families. Unfortunately, within hours of the pause ending, the intensity of the military operation increased and UNRWA saw a corresponding increase in the number of families seeking refuge in its schools. A similar, albeit short, pause in Shejaia on 20 July allowed for medical professionals to remove the dead and injured and for some families to flee the area.
The situation continues to deteriorate, with new displacements leading UNRWA to open additional emergency shelters every day. The toll of individuals affected by the emergency continues to grow, strongly impacting the most vulnerable.The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), for example, reports that 72,000 children require immediate psychosocial support to cope with the trauma of the situation. This is the third major conflict in less than six years. Each successive conflict has had a significant impact on the psychological and physical well-being of children exposed to the cycle of violence in the Gaza Strip.
Considering the rapid and deep deterioration of the already dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian population, UNRWA has adjusted its emergency response plan to provide up to 150,000 conflict-affected individuals (an increase from the 50,000 persons initially estimated) with assistance for 30 days. UNRWA continues to participate in the interagency humanitarian programme cycle and related coordination efforts to ensure optimal effectiveness of interventions undertaken by the UN and partners.
The table below summarises the emergency interventions to be conducted, including the following elements newly added to the Flash Appeal launched on 17 July: