Information Note 21 - 22 January 2009
On the morning of the 22nd, Israeli troops fired and injured a child east of Gaza City near the border. Four Palestinians were injured today by shell fire from an Israeli gunboat reportedly firing at Palestinian fishermen on the Gaza coast. Two Palestinian children were killed on 20 January by unexploded ordnance in Az Zaitoun.
Extensive destruction has been caused to homes and public infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip, with many families losing their entire possessions (MoH).
OCHA reports that an estimate of up to 90,000 has been displaced, including up to 50,000 children. Preliminary findings from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicate the complete destruction of over 4,000 residences, partial destruction of 17,000 buildings, and 25 schools, hospitals and universities. The Ministry of Health (MoH) and WHO report that 34 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed in direct or indirect shelling.
Electricity coverage is still only 8-12 hours a day.
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes arrived in oPt on the 21 January on a five-day mission to review humanitarian needs in Gaza. Today he visited the Gaza Strip and met with residents and UN staff.
An OCHA-coordinated inter-agency Rapid Needs Assessment was to take place in Gaza on Sunday and Monday. However, this will probably take place a week on Monday once a Security Risk Assessment is completed. UNICEF will take part in the assessment team, pending security clearance. The UNDP-led Early Recovery Assessment is also awaiting clearance from the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS). Meanwhile, the Rapid Assessment team is collecting information through a network of UN staff and partners in Gaza.
WHITE PHOSPHOROUS – The Israeli media reported that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have acknowledged it used two types of ammunition containing phosphorous during its operations in Gaza. Accordingly, the IDF is investigating the misuse of one of these types in Beit Lahiya.
UNICEF has requested the police to clean schools from unexploded ordnance, however the campaign has not yet started. UNICEF is advocating for the clearance of schools, clinics and youth centres.
All schools (governmental and UNRWA-operated) in Gaza are to start on 24 January. Teachers and head teachers reported back to school on 21 January. Schools will work in two shifts to accommodate additional students, whose schools were completely damaged.
A Rapid Needs Assessment for education is being finalized.
Health and Nutrition
On 21 January, UNICEF supplied the MOH with Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) drugs sufficient for 40,000 children for a period of six months.
With UNICEF support, an important vaccine storage facility in Gaza is now functional, and routine vaccines will be available until March. Vaccines are being provided in 34 clinics as normal, and access for patients has improved. UNRWA is working with UNICEF to immunize all children in Gaza. Vaccines and hormones are kept in a proper condition and are being secured within each district, sufficient to run the services for one month2. The main MoH warehouse (drugs and vaccines) has fuel reserve, sufficient for at least 5 days.
UNICEF in coordination with WHO commenced a rapid health assessment for Primary Health Care (PHC) settings and hospitals including premises, staff, supplies, ambulances to be concluded Tuesday next week. Out of 56 (PHC) clinics, 54 are functional at 90 per cent capacity. The remaining two PHC clinics in Beit Lahia and Zaytoun area were severely damaged and are not operational.
Antenatal clinics, school health programme, health education programme and nutrition monitoring surveillance resumed their work at 60 per cent capacity.
Today 22 January, the two UNICEF-supported therapeutic centers in Gaza and Khan Younis are working at full capacity to provide services for 180 malnourished children and their mothers on a daily basis.
As sector lead, UNICEF carried out today, a WASH coordination meeting with UN agencies, INGOs and NGOS, with the participation of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) in Gaza. The CMWU initial rapid assessment report showed that damages to the water sector (water networks, waste water networks, water wells, pressure lines) amount to a total of $3.5 million.
UNICEF has also disbursed $50,000 to Gaza’s water utility for rapid repairs to the water network. Since 18 January, CMWU technical teams have been working to assess and repair damage to the water and sewage networks. CMWU announced that repairs have brought back running water to 100,000 people in Gaza.
On the 21st, UNICEF delivered six trucks of family hygiene kits to Gazans, and over 1,300 water purification tablets went into Gaza to provide safe drinking water for 30,000 people over the next three months.
UNICEF is raising awareness around the dangers of unexploded ordnances (UXO). Two radio spots on the protection of children from UXOs are being aired on four different radio stations. A mine action meeting took place today in Ramallah, to discuss and coordinate future plans. UNICEF has also ensured that 100,000 copies of a leaflet on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and UXO are being distributed throughout Gaza.
UNICEF continues to support a national NGO, Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict resolution (PCDCR), which runs a toll phone line providing one-on-one support to parents and children daily between 9:00AM and midnight.
UNICEF has been asked by the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) to prepare a report on child rights violation during the Gaza crisis. This report will be part of many inputs for a final document on grave violations committed against children during the recent conflict.