25 November marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the beginning of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Campaign. This campaign continues until 10 December which is International Human Rights Day. The campaign calls upon activists, governments and United Nations partners to mobilize people and highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls. UNRWA is joining more than 5,000 UN Agencies, other organizations, governments and individuals to raise awareness on gender-based violence. The 2017 theme, “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls” speaks significantly to UNRWA’s work in Gaza. During the 16 days, through its Relief and Social Services Programme and the Gender Initiative, UNRWA is organizing a variety of activities, ranging from awareness sessions, trainings in human rights and gender equity to simulated courts and theatre shows in several Community-Based Organizations and Women Programme Centres across the Gaza Strip. Ending GBV is a top priority for achieving the UN’s founding mission of peace, development and human rights, and an important element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
On 27 November, UNRWA inaugurated the Rimal Preparatory Girls School in Gaza, which has been renovated with generous support from the Dubai Cares Foundation. The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Matthias Schmale, the Chief of the Field Education Programme, Mr. Farid Abu Athra, and the Chief of the Field Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme, Mr. Rafiq Abed, as well as other UNRWA senior staff, representatives from parents’ councils and notables from the community. The inauguration ceremony included several uplifting performances by the students of the school, and speeches by officials. The UNRWA Rimal Preparatory Girls School works on a double shift basis and serves just over 2,200 Palestine refugee students. The school is made up of 30 classrooms and new facilities that will support the provision of quality education including: 2 computer labs, 2 science labs, a library, a multi-purpose room and rooms for the health and school counsellors. In August, over 271,900 refugee children started their new school year 2017-2018 - an increase of 9,788 students compared to last year. The students are taught by 8,730 teachers in 275 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip.
On 29 November, a delegation from the United Nations Association of Germany (Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen – DGVN) visited the UNRWA Gaza Field Office. The ten-member delegation visited UNRWA Gaza Preparatory Girls School (A) where they met with the school parliament and discussed with them their dreams, challenges and hopes for the future. Later, the delegation attended a life skills session as part of the Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) activities at the school. This was followed by a visit to the UNRWA Tuffah Distribution Centre, eastern Gaza city, where Mr. Asem Abu-Shawish, Chief of the,Field Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP), and Mr. Khaled El Habil, Deputy Head of the Logistic Office, briefed the delegation on the Agency’s relief services and emergency food distributions in Gaza. Afterwards, the delegation proceeded to visit the Gaza Training Centre (GTC) to meet with you trainees. The visit concluded with a meeting with the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr Matthias Schmale, who briefed the delegation on the political and humanitarian situation as well as UNRWA operations and services to Palestine refugees in Gaza.
Over the past two weeks, the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Matthias Schmale, visited the northern area of the Gaza Strip. He was briefed by the Area Construction Engineer, Ayman Al-Rubi, about UNRWA’s Designated Emergency Shelters project and met with UNRWA students from the northern area’s central student parliament and their teachers at the UNRWA Jabalia Elementary Co-ed (B) School. The Director also visited the Al-Fakhoura Health Centre and met with Distribution Centre staff in Jabalia Distribution Centre.
On 23 November, UNRWA’s Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired (RCVI) in Gaza City conducted a one-day workshop entitled “Integration of visually impaired students and their special needs”. The workshop aimed to discuss how to achieve integration of low-vision students in regular schools while addressing their specific challenges and needs. The workshop, which was attended by educators, school counsellors, visually impaired persons, optometrists, ophthalmologists and UNRWA staff, included different topics such as opportunities and challenges for the integration of low-vision students, the role of social workers and early detection services provided to visually impaired persons. The RCVI offers educational and rehabilitation activities for visually impaired children aged between 4 and 12 years old, including those children in the kindergarten. It is the only centre in Gaza that provides such services to a total of 486 students studying in the RCVI and at UNRWA schools during the scholastic year of 2017/2018, thereby contributing ensuring quality education reducing inequalities.
UNRWA continues to implement infrastructure and construction projects that address some of the most pressing human development needs in the Gaza Strip. A total of 18 infrastructure projects worth US$ 47 million are under implementation while 18 projects worth US$ 24.1 million are currently awaiting implementation. In November, UNRWA imported 40 trucks of construction materials included on the list of dual use items such as cement, white cement, steel pipes, steel reinforcement bars, raw materials and elevators for ongoing UNRWA infrastructure projects.
Activities in November 2017:
- The reconstruction of 142 totally destroyed homes was completed.
- Repair works for 68 housing units were completed.
Disbursement of payments:
In total UNRWA disbursed approximately US$ 6.3 million for shelter assistance:
For reconstruction: US$ 6,192,220 For repair works: US$ 156,421
The terrible November 24 attack on al Rwada Mosque just across the border with Egypt has increased anxieties about the opening of the Rafah border crossing as well as the influence of extremist groups. Palestinians in Gaza continue to wait and hope for the reconciliation process leading to concrete improvements in daily life such as improvement in electricity supplies.
On 22, 23, 25 and 30 November and on 1, 2 and 3 December, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, forcing them ashore. No injuries were reported.
Several protests were held during the week in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to demand additional support from UNRWA and other UN agencies.
On 22, 23, 25, 27, 28 and 30 November and on 1, 2 and 3 December, Israeli forces positioned at the border fence opened fire towards Palestinian areas. One injury was reported.
On 26 November, a 22-year-old Palestinian man reportedly committed suicide by setting himself on fire in Khan Younis city.
On 30 November, Israeli Forces fired missiles targeting militants training locations across the Gaza Strip in response to mortar shells fired by militants.
On 2 December, a 24-year-old Palestinian man reportedly attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself in the Khan Younis area.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER-BASES VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN:
CHANGE THE COMMUNITY ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN AND VIOLENCE
Under the overarching theme “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls,” 25 November marked the beginning of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Campaign. UNRWA has joined more than 5,000 UN agencies, organizations, governments and countless individuals to raise awareness about violence against women.
As part of a series of activities over a period of 16 days, seven Women’s Programme Centres (WPC), which are part of the UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP), conducted several moot court sessions across Gaza Strip.
This activity was attended by local community representatives and aimed to raise awareness about court procedures and about challenges that women face when they decide to pursue legal action and appeal to courts.
“It’s very important to explain and raise awareness of the community about legal procedures. The court today discussed the issue of child custody. We want our community to see how courts work,” explained 25-year-old Rawan Abu-Ghaza, a lawyer at the Deir El Balah Women Programme Centre who participated in the moot court at the Nuseirat Women Programme Centre.
A variety of topics were discussed in several other moot courts sessions across the Gaza Strip such as early marriage, inheritance, physical and psychological violence and divorce. Other activities aimed at raising the community’s awareness included discussions on radio programmes, a theatre performance and drawing sessions.
”We are trying to affect and change the community’s attitude towards women and violence. I It’s not easy but it’s not impossible! Through the campaign we explain to the community the types and impact of violence, prevention mechanisms and how to seek help”, Rawan added.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA’s emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 295 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 425 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.
As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt.
The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be found here.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air. Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.