Humanitarian response – crisis in Gaza

Published January 13th, 2009 - 12:31 GMT

Humanitarian response – crisis in Gaza

CASUALTIES
According to the Ministry of Health as at 15:00 hours on 12 January, a total of 912 people were killed and 3740 injured since the beginning of the Israeli military operation in Gaza. According to MoH the number of children and women casualties since the beginning of the operation until 11 January were 275 children and 85 women Palestinians killed and more than 1362 children and 528 women injured.  According to ICRC there are more bodies under the rubble that cannot be reached due to denied access by Israeli military. According to Israeli military sources there are over 900 Palestinian fatalities, among them 400 identified as Hamas 'people (Source: IBA- Israel Broadcasting Authority- date: 12 January at 17:12 hours)

According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 695 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel resulting in four death and 250 wounded since the beginning of the military operation on 27 December until 12 January.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS & IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT ON CIVILIANS
The Israeli military operation entered its 17th day. UNRWA resumed activities after suspending staff movements. UNRWA opened four new shelters on 10 January in response to increased demand in Gaza city, Jabalia, and Deir al Balah. UNRWA is currently operating 31 shelters providing refuge to 25,696 people, an increase of over 4,000 from 9 January. (Source: OCHA Field Update for 10-11 January)

The newly established daily temporary humanitarian cease-fire continued today (11:00 -14:00 hrs oPT time) with violations. There is need for a full and permanent cease-fire to allow round the clock humanitarian assistance programmes to respond to the huge needs.

UNICEF staff reported that the shelling diminished significantly and away from city centres since last night.  

HEALTH- According to WHO and ICRC, the main problem currently facing the health sector is access, in terms of the access of staff, procured medicines and equipments to hospitals, and patient referrals out of the Gaza Strip. Public health and public sanitation remain big concerns while waste management has not been assured and garbage is not collected in the Gaza Strip. The vaccination program is still dramatically interrupted, with some trials to operate some centres; this situation could result in outbreaks, a risk increased by Gaza's high population density and dire living conditions.

WATER AND SANITATION- Approximately 500,000 people have no access to running water. In a press release on 10 January, Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility announced its inability to maintain its water and wastewater services due to considerable damage cause to the networks, the difficulties it faces to repair the damage due to lack of access.

FOOD- On 11 January, WFP launched ‘Operation Lifeline Gaza’, a global appeal to increase food distribution. However, organizations on the ground continue to face difficulty in distributing assistance due to the security situation.
INTERNAL ACCESS AND CROSSINGS- Access between northern Gaza and the rest of the territory is open only via the coastal road west of the former Israeli settlement of Netzarim and is restricted to humanitarian relief assistance (including ambulances) following coordination with the Israeli authorities. Kerem Shalom was open on 11 January, with 80 truckloads expected to enter Gaza. New procedures have been put in place at the crossing as of 11 January: trucks will no longer be allowed to enter into the Israeli side of Kerem Shalom unless trucks are available and ready to load the cargo at the Palestinian side of the crossing. Rafah was open for medical cases and aid supplies on 11 January. Nahal Oz: Until the pipeline is emptied, it is uncertain whether more fuel will be pumped through to Gaza. 400,000 litres of industrial fuel are expected to be brought into Gaza on 11 January. On 10 January, crossings were closed for the Jewish Sabbath. Four trucks with medical supplies crossed through Rafah. Nineteen medical cases were evacuated through Rafah out of Gaza. (Source: OCHA Field Update for 10-11 January)

 UNICEF ACTION

PROTECTION-  Taking advantage of the three hours lull today, UNICEF called for  a meeting with the Psychosocial/Child Protection Group in Gaza with participation of Save the children (Sweden & US), CTCCM, PCDCR, International Medical Corps, WHO, FAO. In this meeting/teleconference, all agreed that it is very important to provide the support to IDPs (more than 20000 inside UNRWA schools and to other IDPs living in empty houses inside Gaza City who fled from North of Gaza).Teams of three agencies (PCDCR, CTCCM and Save the children) are ready to intervene in the IDPs shelters managed by UNRWA.  It was agreed that UNICEF to organize an urgent meeting with UNRWA to coordinate this intervention.

Four radio stations are broadcasting two radio spots providing parents with simple messages on how to support and respond to their children’s fears and concerns. The radio spots also provide a UNICEF-supported phone line providing one-on-one support daily between 10:00AM-3:00PM

UNICEF has produced 100,000 leaflets with simple messages designed to protect children from UXO. The leaflets are to be distributed together with other emergency supplies such as drinking water or hygiene material.

It is impossible to organize an assessment of the psychosocial situation due to the security situation in Gaza. Civilians, notably children who form 56 percent of Gaza’s population, are bearing the brunt of the violence. As one of the most densely populated places in the world, more civilians risk being killed or injured if the conflict continues.

WES AND HEALTH- SUPPLIES DISTRIBUTED TO DATE (Source: UNICEF oPT)

11 & 12 January
59904 bottles of 1.5 litres given to Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for distribution
500 family water kits for 5000 families of 6 people delivered to PRCS for distribution

10 January
Two 12KVA generators to be provided to UNRWA to support the blood bank preservation

8 January
PRCS collected 56 water family kits (3360 persons) and 5 fist aid kits for immediate distribution to hospitals, schools and IDPs.

7 January
 PRCS distributed 50 water family kits (60 persons or 10 families sufficient for 6,000 persons). These kits were pre-positioned with the PRCS previously.

28 December
350 First aid kits (for 3500 persons) and 20 Resuscitation kits (each 10-15 persons) distributed.

EDUCATION- Recent military operation and shelling in Gaza has resulted in significant damage to schools’ infrastructure and loss of equipment and stationary while with the need to ensure that children are able to return to school as of 17 January 2009 when the schools are scheduled to start.
UNICEF emergency education materials are already en route. An update will be provided in the next report.

SUPPLIES EN ROUTE
Supplies ranging from family hygiene kits, water purification tablets are en route from UNICEF Syria and Iraq country offices.

COMMUNICATION - Israeli government has not granted Gaza access to international media outlets since the beginning of this emergency. Currently the only international media organisation present in Gaza is Al Jazeera which most Western households do not receive. UNICEF footage and photos are continued to be used by sister UN agencies as well regional and international media outlets. Daily media/ interview logs, directly or via Natcoms, with oPT and MENARO are available upon request.
**Please note new photos and video footage of the Gaza emergency are shared regularly from oPT and now available via DoC/New York

CHALLENGES
• Security and lack of access to UNICEF warehouse due to ongoing fighting on the ground
• Impossibility to conduct a rapid needs assessment due to insecurity
• Israeli Defence Force (IDF) inability to provide safe routes for the UN/ UNICEF to deliver urgently needed supplies, ultimately impacting UN response to the crisis in Gaza.
• UN requests, on the ground in Gaza, are ignored by IDF.
• Lack of electricity and power for operating the WATSAN facilities and lack safe access to maintain and operate these facilities remain

STAFF UPDATE
• UNICEF currently has 10 national staff members present in Gaza city. 
• All Staff are safe but stressed and have limited electricity, water and no access to any other basic facilities. 
• There are delays and at times inability to communicate and locate staff as they move from one place to another due to the ongoing bombardment.
• Requests have been received from some UNICEF staff to be relocated with their families.

 


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