UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. APA images

Gaza: UNOCHA Report 6 August


DESPITE CEASEFIRE, HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
OCHA 6 Aug Hospital StatusThe first day of the 72-hour cease-fire, which entered into force on 5 August at 08:00, has passed without serious incident, as negotiations continue under Egyptian mediation to reach a more permanent agreement. Markets and shops gradually resumed operating as Gaza residents overcome fears from the experience of previous, short-lived pauses. Municipal workers and service providers are clearing streets and rehabilitating and repairing infrastructure. Many of the displaced have returned to check if their homes are still inhabitable or their contents salvageable. Medical and rescue teams succeeded in reaching previously inaccessible area and to recover the dead from under the rubble. Of growing concern are the thousands of explosive remnants of war which are scattered throughout civilian areas, posing a major threat to children, farmers, IDPs returning home and humanitarian workers

This report covers the period from 5 August (0800 hrs) to 6 August (0800 hrs). The next report will be issued on 7 August.

Highlights
  • The Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour cease-fire which entered into force yesterday at 08:00 is holding, with no reports of violations or casualties.
  • Rescue teams continue to retrieve bodies from the rubble. The cumulative death toll of Palestinians is at least 1,843, with civilians representing the majority of those whose status and identity has been verified. Children have borne the brunt of the emergency, with 415 killed.
  • Thousands of explosive remnants of war are posing a major threat to children, farmers, IDPs returning home and humanitarian workers.
  • The number of internally displaced persons in UNRWA shelters has decline d from a peak of over 273,000 on 4 August to 187,000 by this morning. These numbers could rise again if hostilities resume.
  • Alternative housing will be needed for the approximately 65,000 people whose homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
  • 1843 Palestinians killed, including at least 1,354 civilians, of whom 415 are children and 214 are women
  • 67 Israelis killed, including 64 soldiers, two civilians and one foreign national.
  • 373,000 Children require psycho-social support.
  • 187,000 People still displaced in UNRWA emergency shelters.
  • 65,000 Displaced people have had their homes destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
Situation Overview, continued

Most of the Gaza population has to cope with severe shortages in water and power services. Although Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) workers are now deployed in strength to assess and repair damaged feeder lines, rolling power cuts still extend up to 22 hours daily. Food availability remains limited due to the lack of electricity for refrigeration and lack of access to farmed land and to fishing waters for the past four weeks. Farmers and herders reports losses as they were unable to irrigate or harvest, with many livestock killed or left unfed and unattended. Aid agencies are consequently distributing food aid to displaced people in locations where assistance was severely obstructed by hostilities.

Hostilities and casualties

How do we expect parents and caregivers to care for their children and to raise them in a positive and nurturing way when they themselves are barely functioning as humans? People have lost entire strands of their family in one blow. How can a society cope with this? This is a deep, deep, deep wound. Pernille Ironside, Head of UNICEF office, Gaza.

Rescue and medical teams have succeeded in recovering bodies from areas which have witnessed significant hostilities, including Ash Shuja’iyeh, Khuza’a and Rafah. Up to 08:00 on 6 August, the cumulative death toll among Palestinians was at least 1,849, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, including 279 persons (15 per cent), who could not be identified or their status established. Of the fatalities whose identity and status could be verified (1,570),(1,354 people) are believed to be civilians, including 415 children and 214 women, and nearly 14 per cent (216) members of armed groups.

The most serious incident recorded during the reporting period was the recovery of the badly decomposed bodies of eight
members of the Wahdan extended family from under the rubble of their home in Beit Hanoun. The dead included four women and three children who were believed to have been killed in an Israeli airstrike soon after the ground invasion on 17 July. Some members of the family managed to flee Beit Hanoun before the ground invasion, with some taking refuge in the house of Jameel Abu Al Qomsan in Jabalia Camp. However, this house was itself shelled by the Israeli air force on 3 August. Three other member of the Wahdan family were killed in this attack, a man and two women; a two-year-old girl died later from her injuries. Eleven others were injured in this incident, including four children and three women, four in critical condition.

Since the launch of the Israeli military operation, hundreds of homes have reportedly been directly targeted by Israeli airstrikes, and it is estimated that at least 968 houses have been totally destroyed or severely damaged in this manner, causing civilian casualties, including multiple members of the same families. Up to 08:00 on 4 August, at least 122 families have lost three or more family members in the same incident , for a total of 652 fatalities. Such cases raise serious concerns about the targeting of civilians and civilian objects and the launching of indiscriminate attacks.

There were no reports of firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into Israel during the ceasefire. Since 8 July, three
civilians in Israel had been killed, including one foreign national, and dozens directly injured by rockets or shrapnel. The total of Israeli military fatalities stands at 64.

Displacement

As the ceasefire appears to be holding, IDPs are beginning to leave shelters and host families. For the first time since the
emergency began, the overall IDP number in UNRWA shelters decreased from almost 273,000 on 4 August to approximately 208,000 by the evening of 5 August, with a further decline to 187,000 by this morning. However, these numbers could rise again if IDPs find their homes uninhabitable or otherwise unsafe, or if hostilities resume. UNRWA is expecting that a core group of displaced, who have nowhere else to go, will remain in the schools which have been designated as shelters. Of most imminent concern is the start of the new school year, planned for 24 August 2014 as 90 of UNRWA’s 156 school buildings are serving as shelters.

There is currently no update available on the number of IDPs outside UNRWA shelters. Approximately 16,000 IDPs were residing in 19 government schools and other institutions and another 13,000 in four UNRWA-supported government shelters. The Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) has registered about 20,600 displaced families (approximately 123,600 individuals) who are staying with relatives and friends. However, MoSA had estimated that there are as many as 93,000 unregistered IDPs with host families as many displaced in Rafah did not register due to the security situation. Thousands of Israelis who fled their homes in southern Israel are also waiting to see if the 72-hour truce leads to a more lasting ceasefire, before deciding to return to their homes.

Key humanitarian priorities

Prepare to activate assessments in the Gaza strip as soon as an extension of ceasefire is confirmed.
Humanitarian space: increased access for humanitarian workers to carry out life-saving activities, should be maintained, among
other reasons, to complete search and rescue operations in several areas, and repair critical water and electricity infrastructure. Removal of the threat of numerous UXOs in built up areas.
Additional fuel supply: needed to operate backup generators at essential facilities, including water, sanitation and health, for longer hours.
Strengthen response to IDPs: improving priority response to IDPs in non-UNRWA facilities and with host families; ensuring common standards of response to IDPs throughout the Gaza strip, including comprehensive and common registration.
Restoration of water and energy services to communities in Gaza.

Read the rest (pdf) here.

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