oPt

State of Palestine: Humanitarian Situation Report, July – September 2018

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Highlights

  • Since the ‘Great March of Return’ in Gaza and as of 4 October 2018, 205 Palestinians have been killed, including 38 children. More than 21,000 people were injured and 11,180 (52.5%) of them hospitalized. Children injured numbered 4,250, constituting 20% of total injuries (source: UNOCHA 4 October).

  • UNICEF supported Family Centres during this period identified and reached out to 296 injured children, who were visited at home and received Psychological First Aid.

  • Provision of essential drugs and consumables continued in Gaza with a total of 509 pallets of drugs delivered to MOH, covering the needs of over 235,000 high risk pregnant and lactating women, newborns and young children.

  • Over 262,000 children and women in Gaza benefited from improved health and nutritional services from hospitals, clinics and outreach teams.

  • 293 children and 15 teachers received support from UNICEF to safely travel to and from school in the H2 area of Hebron city in West Bank

  • UNICEF conducted training on the Rota-vaccine switch to approximately 710 doctors, nurses from MOH and UNRWA.

  • UN and partners launched the Young People’s Agenda (YPA)/ Generation Unlimited in State of Palestine, with over 50 stakeholders (including representatives from youth, line ministries, private sector, UN agencies, and local NGOs).

  • Securing funds remained a huge challenge to scale up outreach services through mobile clinics to vulnerable communities especially in the H2 area and some parts of Area.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs:

The provision of basic services in Gaza remains a key humanitarian concern, as families struggle to get by with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 48.2% (PCBS Census 2017), disproportionally affecting youth (60 per cent) and women (65.3 per cent). This situation compounds the widespread prevalence of poverty, reducing purchasing power and increasing people’s reliance on humanitarian aid with more than 80%1 of the population dependent on some form of assistance. Salaries of civil servants have, since April 2017, continued to be paid at a reduced rate (UN OCHA). Children and families’ resilience capacity across the Gaza Strip continues to be eroded as the needs have exhausted family coping mechanisms, which provided some form of relief that households have historically relied upon.

At the heart of this deterioration is a further exacerbation of Gaza’s longstanding electricity crisis. Gaza is currently being supplied with only about 3-6 hours of electricity per day since April 2017, down from 8-12 hours previously2 . Longer blackout periods have caused hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, discharging patients prematurely, and reducing cleaning and sterilizing of medical facilities. Water supply through piped network reaches most homes for just a few hours every 3-5 days, and desalination plants are functioning at only 15 per cent of their full capacity. Around 110 million liters of untreated sewage are being discharged into the Mediterranean every day, while wastewater pumping stations are at constant risk of overflow, posing environmental health risks to all inhabitants in Gaza, but most particularly to children for whom the beach is their only playground.

Additionally, the risk of escalation in military confrontations with Israel remains high. Since 30 March 2018, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of mass demonstrations around the “Great March of Return” taking place along Israel’s fence with Gaza. On 28 September, 7 Palestinians, including 2 children, were killed, and hundreds of others injured during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip. This is the highest fatality toll in a single day since 14 May 2018, when 42 Palestinians were killed. As of 4 October 2018, 205 Palestinian people and 1 Israeli have been killed, including 38 children in Gaza. More than 21,000 Palestinians were injured, including 11,180 (52.5%) of them hospitalized as well as 37 Israeli injuries3 . According to the OCHA, 4,250 children were injured, constituting 20% of total injuries and 1,952 women.

Despite significant assistance provided, Gaza's health sector is struggling to cope with the very high number of casualties. Due to years of closure, the internal divide and a chronic energy crisis, leaving essential services in Gaza barely able to function. There is an urgent need to provide support to the population of Gaza to avoid a further degradation in essential life-saving and basic services.

During the last months, high level negotiations have been pursued by the UN to engage Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, as well as regional and international partners, to reduce tensions and violent escalations in the Gaza Strip, support intra-Palestinian reconciliation and resolve humanitarian challenges. With the United States administration's recent decision to cut all funding to UNRWA (more than $300 million), the Agency faces an unprecedented funding crisis and millions of Palestinian refugees could lose access to UNRWA services. Recent cuts in staffing and services in both Gaza and West Bank have led to industrial actions by UNRWA personnel, fueling an already volatile situation with vulnerable populations at risk of not receiving health care and education services, amongst others.

On 5 September, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected all petitions related to its 24 May ruling, which allowed the demolition of the entire Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar-Abu al Helu. Israel has ordered all residents of the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar - Abu al Helu to demolish their own homes. The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, recently called upon the authorities not to proceed with the demolition and to cease efforts to relocate Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank. A demolition of the community would displace 181 people, over half of which are children, and otherwise affect 170 students from that and neighboring village attending the community's school.