- To mark the sixty-eighth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UNRWA Education Programme in Gaza organized a ceremony at Al-Zaitoun Preparatory Girls’ School A in Gaza city. Senior UNRWA officials, teachers and parents of the students attended the event. The programme for the day included activities such as songs, sketches and a drawing competition for the students. Students from the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired (RCVI) performed a song about the Human Rights Day and a Dabka dance. The parents also participated in an activity where they expressed their wishes for their children for the future. For over ten years UNRWA has been integrating human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance in its school activities. In May 2012, the Agency endorsed its new Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance (HRCRT) Policy to further strengthen human rights education in UNRWA. This policy builds upon past successes, but also draws from international best practices and paves the way to better integrate human rights education in all our schools.
- The UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) conducted a workshop for 15 participants such as parents, UNRWA teachers and head teachers from the Rehabilitation Centre for Visually Impaired (RCVI) in Gaza city and UNRWA schools, as well as social workers and school counsellors, to enable them to better support the integration of visually impaired students into society. The one-day training included workshops, presentations and discussions led by opticians, social workers, head teachers and also a former visually impaired student at the RCVI, all aiming at promoting concrete ideas and strategies on how to raise awareness in the community to better integrate children with disabilities, and how to better advocate for their rights. Children with disabilities in Gaza face many challenges. On 13 December the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the occupied Palestinian territory launched its “Every child counts: understanding the needs and perspectives of children with disabilities in the State of Palestine” report in Gaza. The report explores how Palestinian children with disabilities (PCWD) are marginalized and excluded, the obstacles they face in fulfilling their rights and what mechanisms might be put into place by the government, donors and non-governmental organizations, communities and families to better support their development. According to UNICEF, PCWD face a particularly dire situation due to cultural stigma directed at their disability and the poverty and conflict that surrounds them. UNRWA support children with disabilities in Gaza not only though the RCVI, but also through its inclusive education approach which integrates children with disabilities in regular UNRWA schools, or through seven Community-Based Rehabilitation Centres (CBRC) across Gaza which provide educational and other services to persons with disabilities.
- During the reporting week, on 10 December, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Campaign came to an end. For the campaign, UNRWA had joined more than 5,000 UN agencies, organizations, governments and countless individuals to raise awareness on violence against women. The UNRWA communications with communities (CwC) team, part of the Gaza Field Communications Office, cooperated with the Gaza-based Alwan radio station to launch an awareness-raising radio programme focusing on topics such as early marriage, Gender-Based Violence, women’s rights and women’s economic empowerment. Each session featured staff and experts from UNRWA – e.g. from its Microfinance Programme, Gender Initiative, Legal Units or Health Programme - and other (humanitarian) organizations in Gaza, as well as a personal testimony and success story from a Palestine refugee woman who had received support from the Agency, e.g. a woman who had been forced into early marriage, a woman who survived GBV, or a female entrepreneur. The Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, participated in the first session.
- To increase its accountability, UNRWA seeks feedback from its beneficiaries through various platforms, for example through the Relief and Social Service Programme’s (RSSP) petition system. In November, RSSP received almost 400 petitions from Palestine refugees across Gaza, and as of to date, already replied to approximately one fourth of them. Most inquiries focus on shelter rehabilitation, followed by food assistance, cash assistance and opportunities through the Job Creation Programme (JCP). Further, over the past month RSSP social workers, as part of a regular process, conducted home visits to almost 9,050 refugee families and assessed their households status and assistance eligibility through UNRWA’s Poverty Assessment System. The RSSP Disability Programme also, in cooperation with several non-government organizations, distributed assistive devices to 30 persons with disabilities; in addition, 730 persons with disabilities benefitted from special education services in seven RSSP-supported Community-Based Rehabilitation Centres.
- UNRWA maintains Chief Area Offices (CAO) in all of its five governorates to maintain closer community links; Chiefs of Area Offices have a representative function at the area level and lead an area management team which, among other tasks, addresses area-specific issues and problems. During the week, the CAO in the Gaza Middle Area implemented a workshop to address the health, security and environmental impact of street vendors in front of UNRWA schools on UNRWA students. Street vendors often sell unhealthy food, create a lot of rubbish and their stalls often block streets in front of schools and health centres, causing traffic jams. The mayor, community representatives, including vendors, and UNRWA area staff from its Education and Health Programmes and Operations Support Office attended the workshop which aimed at finding a joint and fair solution for all while ensuring that vendors would be able to continue earning a living. In the future, it was agreed that the municipality would do more regular checks on vendors and UNRWA will focus more on raising awareness among parents and students on healthy food and healthy lifestyles.