GAZA – After almost one month of war, the Catholic Relief Services issued a report of the dramatic humanitarian situation of the Gaza strip.
Country Program: Jerusalem, West Bank & Gaza
Situation Report: 6
Dates Covered by Report: 2 August – 11 August 2014
Type of Event: Military Conflict
Following a month of violent hostilities, parties to the conflict in Gaza entered into a 72-hour ceasefire beginning at 08:00 local time on Tuesday, 5 August and ending at 08:00 on Friday, 8 August. The ceasefire remained unviolated, with indirect negotiations for a more permanent resolution taking place in Egypt. Hostilities resumed on Friday morning, however, and continued through the weekend, albeit at a lower level of intensity. A new ceasefire went into effect on Monday, 11 August at midnight.
In the days leading up to and following the initial ceasefire, residents of Gaza continued to suffer fatalities, displacement, and shortages of basic supplies. The Gaza Power Plant remains shut down, causing electricity outages up to 21 hours per day. Limited power in conjunction with damage to water infrastructure and chronic fuel shortages has severely limited access to sufficient clean water. Inability to access farmland and fishing waters has similarly placed a critical strain on access to food.
Despite the current ceasefire, health institutions continue to face overwhelming demand with decreased capacity to meet the need due to the ongoing power outages, damaged facilities, shortage of medical supplies, and tight restrictions on transferring patients to Egypt, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Amid the tenuous calm, Gazans have begun to assess damage and take initial steps for recovery. Some have visited their homes to consider the potential for returning permanently. Markets and stores are reopening, increasing access to basic need items on a limited scale. Municipalities have started clearing rubble, allowing medical teams to recover bodies of the dead that were previously unreachable. Of particular concern as Gazans begin to move more freely are the explosive remnants of war, which are a major threat to residents, especially farmers, IDPs returning home, and children, as well as to humanitarian workers.
2. Safety and Security
All CRS staff members in Gaza and their immediate family members are safe. Extended family members of two staff were killed during the month of hostilities.
Gaza-based staff returned to work on 5 August and the office is open and fully functional. Several staff are in the field overseeing NFI distributions. Two international staff – Country Representative and Program Manager – entered Gaza on 5 August, immediately after the start of the first ceasefire, and left on 8 August as the ceasefire ended. They returned on Monday, 11 August in the wake of the new ceasefire. The CRS Guesthouse sustained minor damages, primarily with windows blown out in several rooms.
3. CRS Assessment Findings
CRS is beginning to assess the impact of military operations on the physical environment and the people of Gaza. Needs assessment results will be shared once data becomes available.
- 1,948 Palestinians have been killed, at least 1,402 (nearly 72%) were civilians, including 456 children and 237 women. An estimated 9,300 have been injured.
- 64 Israeli soldiers, 2 Israeli civilians and 1 foreign national in Israeli have been killed.
- 490,000 people in Gaza were displaced internally, most taking shelter in schools, in other informal shelters or with host families.
- Hospitals continue to report severe shortages of supplies.
- 141 schools and 31 health facilities have been damaged.
- 400,000 internally displaced persons are in need of food and water assistance.
- 1.4 million people are affected by the water and sanitation deterioration.
- 11,855 housing units in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged and another 36,000 have suffered some damage.
- Over 373,000 children directly affected by the conflict (through loss of home or family member) are in need of psychosocial support.
4. Programmatic Response and Funding
CRS staff in Gaza have scaled up activities in the field since the initial ceasefire commenced. Of the 3,000 NFI kits procured through USAID and CRS private funds, a total of 1,022 have been distributed in the North and Rafah. Likewise, 1,600 of the 5,000 hygiene kits provided by OFDA have been distributed in the North, Khan Younis, and Rafah. In addition to the previously-reported $25,500 worth of OFDA-funded medical supplies, CRS is in the process of procuring specially requested medical supplies and equipment for Al Ahli Hospital and Caritas Jerusalem’s network of clinics in Gaza with funding from USAID.
With €100,000 from Caritas Germany, CRS will provide 400 families with critical food assistance, non-food items, and clean water supplies, primarily through unconditional cash vouchers. Transitioning from direct delivery of goods to cash vouchers will empower families to determine and meet their own needs and will support recovery of local markets.
Psycho-social support will be mainstreamed into all programming as possible, with CRS staff and partners as initial recipients, followed by services for CRS beneficiaries, including care-givers and children.
As the longer-term impact of conflict becomes clearer, CRS is in the process of planning activities for restoration of livelihoods, and is exploring options for transitional shelter.