Gaza Situation Report 185, 7 – 14 March 2017
On 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD), under this year’s theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030” (#BeBoldforChange), the UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) in Gaza, in cooperation with seven Woman Programme Centres, organized a race for girls and women on the sea road of the Gaza Strip. The event aimed to draw the attention of the community towards gender equality issues in Palestinian society, to break stereotypes and to encourage sports activities for women. The walk/run was also designed to advocate for non-government organizations working in the field of women’s empowerment to support sports activities for women. 150 women aged 18-25 participated. On 12 March, RSSP also organized a football match, in collaboration with the Rafah Youth Activity Centre, for girls under 15 years of age. The objective of the game was to encourage increased access of all children and youth – girls and boys – to social, cultural, recreational and sports activities. The RSSP IWD sports activities complemented the UNRWA Gender Initiative seminar held in the same week, entitled: ‘Equal opportunities for women in the private sector in the Gaza Strip’, and organized in cooperation with UN Women.
The UNRWA Education Programme in Gaza invests great efforts to provide Palestine refugee children with access to equitable and inclusive quality education. More than 262,000 students currently benefit from an UNRWA education, facilitated by 8,500 dedicated UNRWA teachers in 267 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip. As part of the Agency’s commitment to this important service, and in acknowledgment of increasing student numbers, in early March 2017 UNRWA launched its recruitment campaign for teacher posts in Gaza. This year, UNRWA is introducing a number of changes to its recruitment approach; including extensions to new waiting lists for a number of specializations for two years and introducing the part-time modality. Candidates are selected to fill these posts based on their rankings within a list after passing the technical test and the interview phases. Two-year waiting lists will enable the Agency to continue to consider the growing number of applications. Similar to previous years, this campaign started with a vacancy announcement with a one-month deadline. The high number of qualified applicants for teacher vacancies – expected to be in the region of 30,000 in 2017 – reflects the ongoing unemployment crisis prevailing in Gaza. A large number of highly educated individuals are limited to finding employment opportunities only in the Gaza Strip. This is due to the almost ten-year long blockade, which severely restricts the movement of people and goods.
On 14 March, UNRWA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed an amendment to their memorandum of understanding, which was signed 12 months ago, entailing a new contribution of US $17,091,744 from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development. Director of UNRWA Operations, Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, and UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator – Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, Mr. Roberto Valent attended the ceremony with the Palestinian Minister of Public Works and Housing, Mr. Mofeed Al-Hasayneh. To be implemented by UNDP, the new funding will cover the rehabilitation of 281 totally damaged houses for Palestinian non-refugees affected by the 2014 hostilities in the Gaza Strip, in addition to the construction and rehabilitation of 5 field playgrounds and a culture centre. UNRWA will administer the grant and be involved in monitoring of the project, advising on construction based on its vast experience in the Gaza Strip. The programme will prioritize female-headed households and will take into consideration family size and current socio-economic status of targeted population.
From 5 to 13 March 2017, UNRWA Gaza Field Office delivered a Social Media and Neutrality training for its area staff in managerial and supervision positions. Participants comprised 207 staff members from the Gaza Field Office and 19 from HQ Gaza. Additional sessions will be held at a later date for those unable to complete the training last week. The agency-wide training, which was conducted in Gaza by six senior staff members, was held as a complement to UNRWA mandatory online course which all staff must complete before taking office. Topics focused on definitions, such as the principle of neutrality, the agency’s use of social media for public advocacy, social media guidelines and policies, examples of clear violations of the Regularly Framework and the Agency’s approach to breaches of the Regulatory Framework. The training was dynamic using plenary, groups and pairs discussions, practical tips and scenarios.
A diplomatic delegation from China visited Gaza on 7 March. The Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the Palestinian National Authority, Ambassador Chen Xingzhong and other diplomatic staff visited UNRWA Shajayiya Elementary Co-Education School, where the Director of UNRWA Operations, Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, and the Chief, field Education Programme, Mr. Farid Abu-Athra, provided a briefing on UNRWA activities. The delegation also met with members of the student parliament and donated to the children some school materials and stationery. The Chinese delegation also visited Rimal Health Centre, in central Gaza, and met with the Chief, field Health Programme, Ms. Ghada Al-Jadba and a Senior Medical Officer who gave the visitors an overview of the UNRWA Health Programme and the services available to Palestine refugees. The Ambassador and other guests toured the facility and engaged with health staff in the various services. The People’s Republic of China first contributed to UNRWA in 1964. In recent years, it has rapidly increased its contributions to the Agency, and in recognition of the important partnership, the UNRWA Commissioner-General made his first official visit to the country on 5 July 2015.