UNOSAT joins damage assessment on the ground in Gaza to support UNDP
4 September 2014, Jeusalem -- After weeks of rapid humanitarian mapping all along the latest offensive in Gaza, UNOSAT deployed a field staff to Jerusalem and Gaza on 01 September to provide support to the UN efforts to conclude a definite assessment of the damage caused by the crisis. UNOSAT has a long record of mapping damage in the Gaza strip. Because of the importance of satellite analysis in documenting and reviewing damage to civilian and UN structures, UNOSAT has been involved in all the major crises in Gaza and has contributed to the Goldstone report. This time around, after supporting OCHA, WFP and other humanitarian agencies with rapid mapping during the military offensive, UNOSAT was called upon by the UNDP PAPP office in Jerusalem with the mission of supporting and complementing the damage assessment being done by the UN together with the Palestinian authorities. Einar Bjorgo says: “This is an example of ideal workflow for us: during the peak of the crisis we produce rapid information for agencies in charge of assisting populations in areas they cannot safely reach; then we complement the information acquired during the emergency with more extensive and accurate data and provide that to those agencies who are in charge of early recovery and helping the national authorities assess damage and plan reconstruction”.
The OCHA Office in Jerusalem recognises the importance of UNOSAT satellite analysis. Majed Abu Kubi, Head of the Information Management Unit in Jerusalem says: “The information received from UNOSAT during the Gaza crisis was crucial in illustrating the extent and severity of the damage on the ground. UNOSAT analysis provided indispensable information on an environment where access was prohibited. The analysis data were used also for a number of products to advocate for the right and needs of people in Gaza. The same data were tailored to produce the Gaza Crisis Atlas that was used by most operational organizations on the ground as well as donors in Jerusalem. The data was also used by the assessment team to design the inter-agency rapid needs assessment”. This type of multiple use of imagery and data to benefit as many users as possible, each in its own specific area of responsibility, is a hallmark of UNOSAT and has contributed to building the reputation of the Programme.
The expert deployed by UNOSAT to the UNDP-PAPP Office in Jerusalem is in charge of supporting assessment teams directly on the ground in Gaza as well as coordinating with UNOSAT in Geneva and with other counterparts in Gaza and Jerusalem on all geospatial aspects relating to the damage assessment. Narjess Saidane, Deputy Special Representative of UNDP in Jerusalem, says: “UNOSAT was able to provide satellite imagery analysis to the heart of the ongoing hostilities in Gaza. The images of the affected areas enabled the UN to conduct assessments and supported the Palestinian Government and donor community in determining the extent of the damage and the adequate response to the crisis. UNDP thanks UNOSAT for their continued support and partnership”.
Earlier, UNOSAT had received financial support from the government of Denmark to complete its geospatial assessment of the impact of the 2014 offensive on civilian and UN structures in Gaza. The study, which is expected to be published in September, will shed light on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict from the geospatial point of view. UNOSAT management says that the support received from Denmark was essential in bridging operational gaps and thanks to this contribution UNOSAT was able to share additional information with OCHA and UNDP in a successful example of synergy and UN delivering as one.