State of Palestine: Humanitarian Situation Report, January - June 2019

Situation Report
Originally published



• Early May witnessed the most severe outbreak of hostilities in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel since the 2014 conflict, resulting in several injuries and deaths including of children of both sides.

• Since January 2019, eight children have been killed and 979 children have been hospitalized due to injuries in the context of the Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations in Gaza. Since 30 March 2018, 58 children have been reported killed in Gaza and more than 7,000 injured.

• During the period under review, 3,200 potable water tanks and 920 water domestic tanks were distributed to 4,120 vulnerable households in different targeted areas of Gaza. Hygiene awareness sessions were conducted to the same beneficiaries as a follow-up to the distribution of the water tanks.

• More than 4,600 children and their caregivers were reached with Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) risk education sessions. In addition, over 2,500 caregivers benefitted from awareness-raising sessions on the protection of their children

• A Nutrition Needs Assessment conducted in the most vulnerable areas in Gaza with WFP and Save the Children indicated that 18% of pregnant women and 14% of lactating mothers are malnourished and only 14% of children under five years of age had a minimum acceptable diet. UNICEF supported the screening of over 3,000 children under-five for malnutrition, with 82 children treated for severe acute malnutrition, and 237 treated for moderate acute malnutrition.

• Around 78,700 children and women in Gaza benefitted from lifesaving medical supplies, including essential drugs, medical consumables, equipment, first aid kits and trauma bags.

Humanitarian Situation and Needs:

The 12-year blockade on Gaza limits the access of the one million children to basic commodities such as water and electricity, as well as restricting the freedom of movement. Demonstrations taking place at the perimeter fence between Israel and Gaza in the Great March of Return (GMR) since 30 March 2018 have continued, with negative impact on children. The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been exacerbated by the fragile security situation with at least three serious escalations between Israeli forces and militant groups in Gaza. From 3-5 May 2019, 29 fatalities were reported, including three children and two pregnant women (four Israelis and 25 Palestinians killed) and around 170 people injured including 33 children who were injured from live ammunition. There also continues to be a lack of progress on reconciliation efforts between the de facto authority in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA). All these factors severely affect the living conditions of the population in Gaza, magnify insecurity, the sense of hopelessness and exacerbate poverty. This is contributing to reliance on negative coping mechanisms such as school drop-outs, child marriage, child labour, and other child rights violations.

Eight children have been killed since the beginning of 2019 in the context of the Great March of Return, while 979 children have been hospitalized due to injuries. According to OCHA reports, since 30 March 2018, 58 children (55 boys and three girls) have been reported killed in Gaza and more than 7,000 injured, with over 3,600 requiring hospital treatment.

The deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Gaza has pushed more families into poverty undermining their ability to afford basic education supplies for their children and increasing the risk of dropping out of school. Children who drop out are at risk of child labour or participating in life-threatening activities, increasing the demands on the already overburdened protection system in Gaza.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 446 attacks on health care in Gaza since the start of the Great March of Return on 30th March 2018. These attacks resulted in three deaths and 731 injuries among health workers. In total 104 ambulances and 6 other forms of health transport were damaged, in addition to five health facilities and one hospital. This has implications for aid/relief operations with health workers facing substantial barriers to carry out their work.

In partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and Save the Children, a Nutrition Needs Assessment was undertaken in the most vulnerable areas in Gaza. According to the results, 18% of pregnant women and 14% of lactating mothers are malnourished. The results also revealed that coping strategies of the most vulnerable population in Gaza compromise the diversity and daily intake of nutritious foods. Only 14% of children under five years of age had a minimum acceptable diet.

There is an increasing need for case management and related services in Gaza, including vocational training for children who have dropped-out of school, affected some way by the incidents following participation in demonstrations at the perimeter fence. However, the financial capacities of families restrict their ability to register children also in vocational options. This has compounded the already difficult circumstances for families trying to protect their vulnerable children and increasing risks of negative coping mechanisms.

In the West Bank including East Jerusalem, security incidents and clashes continue to occur on a sporadic basis and children face significant protection risks. Ill-treatment of children during their arrest, transfer, detention and interrogation remains a concern. The detailed testimonies of a total of 82 arrested children have been collected and analysed to date in 2019 with 51 children reporting that they were subjected to ten or more forms of ill-treatment (eg physical violence, night arrest, painful hand-ties, denial of access to a lawyer, etc).

In the West Bank, incidents of demolitions and violence were reported over the reporting period. A total of 305 structures were demolished in East Jerusalem leading to the displacement of 439 people including children. A total of three children (one boy and two girls) were killed in violence-related incidents in the West Bank.

The Education Cluster estimates that 505,285 (249,327 males, 255,958 females) children across Palestine face challenges in accessing quality education in a safe and child-friendly environment. Around 13,973 (5,942 males, 8,031 females) teachers are also in need of support to continue the provision of quality education to children in Palestine. Access to education is compromised by an increase in education-related violations, affecting over 39,000 students and teachers (Area C - 26,387, East Jerusalem - 11,481 and West Bank- 1,377) where children are exposed to conflict-related violence and delays on their way to schools, which can lead to increased school dropout rates.

The realization of the right to education remains severely compromised due to violence and armed search operations in schools; harassment, intimidation and violence towards students and teachers on their way to and from school; severe shortage of classrooms and demolition or “stop work” orders on school buildings. Due to the increased needs rising from the education related violations in the West Bank, UNICEF reached out to more children than the targeted number.

Finally, the fiscal crisis experienced by the Palestinian authority has led to 30 to 35 per cent salary cut in public sector pay starting in the 2nd quarter of 2019 and is expected to have a negative impact on the economy and livelihoods if it persists.