UNRWA Report: Over 220,000 Internally-Displaced Persons in 89 UNRWA Shelters

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JERUSALEM, August 9, 2014 – (WAFA) –  Palestinians are fleeing their homes as the truce ended and over 220,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) have sought refuge in 89 UNRWA shelters (up by almost 50,000 on 7 August 2014, 08.00hrs).

This was demonstrated in the Gaza Situation Report 31 issued by UNRWA Friday (updated 4:30 p.m.), which highlights UNRWA efforts to accommodate the rising number of IDPs, address their pressing hygiene and health issues.

The report also presents a general overview about the Cairo-based ceasefire talks and reports UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory James Rawley underscoring the significance of halting violence for humanitarian response.

The report also highlights UNRWA’s efforts to assess damages to its facilities and commence repairs, to launch hygiene, water and food distribution campaigns to meet the needs of IDPs.

Under a section titled Highlight, UNRWA stated that it would “continue providing refuge and humanitarian aid to all Palestinians impacted by the hostilities,” noting that “Due to the massive influx into the shelters overnight and early this ]Friday[ morning, there are no updated IDP figures available. Registration will continue throughout the day.”

Commenting on UNRWA efforts to address pressing hygiene and health issues in the shelters, the report states UNRWA is planning, in cooperation with UNICEF, to launch a hygiene and water campaign which is designed to make IDPs aware of, and take responsibility for, helping to promote clean shelters to prevent a large scale outbreak of diseases, such as water-borne infections and scabies.

As a complement to the hygiene and water campaign, UNRWA also strives to improve health care and surveillance in the shelters. Health teams in the shelters will report on nine health issues of concern (diarrhea for example) on a daily basis to assist in early detection of problems and prevent large scale outbreaks. These initiatives are rolled out amongst incredible challenges, including insufficient access to non-potable water, a potential resumption of violence and the high number of IDPs in UNRWA shelters.

UNRWA moved to stress the fact that nobody and nothing is safe in Gaza, referring the Israeli ‘kinetic’ attacks  on five UNRWA emergency shelters; these shelters were subject to direct kinetic attacks by the Israel forces although their coordinates and joint coordination map references were communicated to them Israeli forces on multiple occasions.

In UN missions around the globe, UN flags were flying at half-mast on Thursday in memory of the eleven UNRWA colleagues who were killed during the one-month military escalation. A moment of silence was observed by UN staff members in memory of their Palestinian colleagues.

Under a section dedicated to the general situation, UNRWA recalled a statement made by United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the oPt James Rawley highlighting the significance of a continued halt in violence for a humanitarian response in the Gaza Strip.

With due regard to security concerns, an agreement to lift the restrictions on movement of people and goods that Israel has put in place for the last seven years was critical to address people’s needs in the short and longer-term. “Without the full lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in Gaza will continue to be deprived of any sense of a normal life and the massive reconstruction effort now required will be impossible,” said Rawley.

Under a section titled UNRWA Response, UNRWA noted that with the temporary ceasefire holding, UNMAS on 7 August continued clearing UNRWA installations and that subsequent to UNMAS clearance, provided there is an end to hostilities, UNRWA engineers will assess damage, and begin to effect repairs to the buildings.

UNRWA added that UNRWA would launch a hygiene and water campaign in all operating shelters. The campaign is designed to ensure that IDPs are aware of and take responsibility for helping to promote clean shelters and prevent any major health issues, such as for example water-borne diseases and scabies.

The UN organization added that 14 of 21 health centers were operating and that 86 per cent of the staff reported to work and 21,909 patients were served, representing a 12 per cent increase on 6 August.

As a complement to the hygiene and water campaign, UNRWA also strives to improve surveillance in the shelter. Health teams in the shelters will report on nine health issues of concern (diarrhea for example) on a daily basis. With the shelters cramped, and widespread fear and anxiety amongst Gazans, UNRWA is also concerned that an outbreak of any disease might cause major panic amongst shelter residents. UNRWA also continues to work with UN partners and local NGOs, including for example the Sharek Youth Forum, to provide psychological and psychosocial support to adults and children.

Over the reporting period, UNRWA delivered 35 truckloads of non-food items (NFIs) as well as 95 truckloads of food to shelters. Food to shelters is provided in cooperation with WFP.

UNRWA’s food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 4,150 families through UNRWA distribution centers.

UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued to distribute both potable and non-potable water to 90 UNRWA emergency shelters across the Gaza Strip and 8 government shelters in the North. Over the reporting period, 517 cubic meters of potable water were trucked to UNRWA shelters, bringing the potable water supply to about 2.7 liters per person per day, excluding bottled water supplied through partners to shelters where no sufficient water supply was provided through trucks. The Middle Area and Rafah potable water supply reached 3 liters per person per day which is the minimum requirement. 615 cubic meters of non-potable water was trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the UNRWA shelters.

Of UNRWA’s Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Department, 83 per cent of the permanent sanitation staff reported to work. Together with 371 Palestinians employed under the Job Creation Programme (JCP), they removed a total of 366 tonnes from all Gaza camps. UNRWA maintenance staff continue to undertake critical repair work in UNRWA installations, including plumbing and electrical works in shelters.

UNRWA also continued to provide its logistics capacity to supply fuel to municipalities, water, sanitation and health facilities through the WASH and Health clusters (led by UNICEF and WHO). 24,000 liters were delivered to UNICEF for the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) and 26,000 liters were delivered to WHO to support the Gaza health sector.

Regarding the situation of UNRWA installations, UNRWA estimated that 97 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014. Data on damage to UNRWA installations was based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification.

Regarding funding needs, UNRWA directed donors to check the revised flash appeal, wherewas regarding crossings it noted that Rafah crossing was open for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians. Erez was open for humanitarian cases and international staff. Kerem Shalom crossing was open.

Source: WAFA