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Information Note 12 - 13 January 2009

HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE – CRISIS IN GAZA
CASUALTIES
According to the Ministry of Health on 13 January, total of 952 people were killed and 4260 injured since the beginning of the Israel military operation in Gaza. According to MoH the number of children and women casualties since the beginning of the operation until 12 January were 292 children and 85 women killed and more than 1497 children and 626 women injured.  Exact figures are not available due to insecurity, rising number of casualties, and difficulty in taking out the injured from collapsed buildings. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and damaged resulting in the displacement of thousands of people

According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 716 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel resulting in four civilian deaths and 255 wounded since the beginning of the military operation on 27 December and until 13 January.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS & IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT ON CIVILIANS
The Israeli military operation entered its 18th day. Heavy bombardment of Gaza City continued over night. Israeli air, sea and ground forces continue to surround populated areas of the Gaza Strip, and the Gaza and North Gaza Governorates remain isolated from the rest of the territory.
Israel has been accused by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of firing weapons containing white phosphorus into Gaza. HRW said that its researchers in Israel "observed multiple air-bursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over what appeared to be the Gaza City/Jabaliya area" on Friday (9 January) and Saturday (10 January). The chemical "can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin," said HRW. The use of white phosphorus in Gaza would violate "the requirement under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian injury and loss of life."
Temporary humanitarian cease-fire was held today (9:00 -12:00 hrs oPT time) with violations. The needs of the population are so great at this time, that humanitarian assistance programmes need to operate round the clock.

UNRWA is operating 36 emergency shelters providing refuge to 28,116 people. UNRWA opened five additional shelters on 11 January to accommodate the one-day increase of 2,240 people with the largest increases reported in the Gaza and Khan Yunis Governorates as well as two additional shelters on 12 January in the government schools in Jabalia.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be coming to Jerusalem on Thursday 15 January to meet with UN agencies, assess the situation and press forward on a cease-fire bid, urging all parties to stop fighting, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1860.

HEALTH
There are increasing risks of epidemic outbreaks resulting from the disruption of vaccinations, uncollected rubbish piling up in the streets and unsafe drinking water. The main problem remains access, in terms of the access of staff, procured medicines and equipments to hospitals, and patient referrals out of the Gaza Strip. The Ministry of Health and UNRWA are coordinating to resume the vaccination in the currently operating PHC clinics.

WATER AND SANITATION
Approximately 500,000 people have no access to running water. The damage to the water and wastewater networks has not been repaired. Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility received reports that 200,000 cubic metres of wastewater has leaked form Gaza City Wastewater Treatment plant due to damage to the embankment of one of the treatment ponds sustained on 10 January.

FOOD
Bread is in short supply as majority of mills and bakeries have stopped working. Currently 12 bakeries out of 47 are currently functioning, following a loan of 300 metric tones of wheat flour form WFP on 11 January.  Food for children and malnourished children is also not available (Source: OCHA). Organizations on the ground continue to face difficulty in distributing assistance due to the violence on the ground.

UNICEF ACTION

PROTECTION
Four radio stations continue to broadcast two radio spots providing parents with simple messages on how to support and respond to their children’s fears and concerns. The radio spots also provide a UNICEF-supported phone line providing one-on-one support daily between 10:00AM-3:00PM.

Taking advantage of the three hours lull on Monday 12 January, UNICEF called for  a meeting with the Psychosocial/Child Protection Group in Gaza with participation of Save the children (Sweden & US), CTCCM, PCDCR, International Medical Corps, WHO, FAO. During this meeting all agreed to provide the support to IDPs (more than 20000 inside UNRWA schools and to other IDPs living in empty houses inside Gaza City who fled from North of Gaza).Teams of three agencies (PCDCR, CTCCM and Save the children) are ready to intervene in the IDPs shelters managed by UNRWA.  It was agreed that UNICEF to organize an urgent meeting with UNRWA to coordinate this intervention.

It is impossible to organize an assessment of the psychosocial situation due to the security situation in Gaza. Civilians, notably children who form 56 percent of Gaza’s population, are bearing the brunt of the violence. As one of the most densely populated places in the world, more civilians risk being killed or injured if the conflict continues.

EDUCATION
The schools are rescheduled to start on 17 January. The recent military operation and shelling in Gaza has resulted in significant damage to schools’ infrastructure and loss of equipment and stationary. It is impossible to currently assess the situation due to continuous fighting in Gaza.

WASH AND HEALTH- SUPPLIES DISTRIBUTED TO DATE

13 January
6346 bottles of 1.5 litres were given to Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for distribution to conflict affected population

11 & 12 January
59904 bottles of 1.5 litres were given to PRCS for distribution
500 family water kits for 5000 families of 6 people delivered to PRCS for distribution

10 January
Two 12KVA generators given to UNRWA to support the blood bank preservation

8 January
PRCS collected 56 water family kits (3360 persons) and 5 fist aid kits for immediate distribution to hospitals, schools and IDPs.

7 January
 PRCS distributed 50 water family kits (60 persons or 10 families sufficient for 6,000 persons). These kits were pre-positioned with the PRCS previously.

28 December
350 First aid kits (for 3500 persons) and 20 Resuscitation kits (each 10-15 persons) distributed.

SUPPLIES EN ROUTE
Supplies ranging from family hygiene kits, water purification tablets are en route from UNICEF Syria and Iraq country offices.

COMMUNICATION
Israeli government has not granted Gaza access to international media outlets since the beginning of this emergency. UNICEF footage and photos are continued to be used by sister UN agencies as well regional and international media outlets. Daily media/ interview logs, directly or via UNICEF National Committees, with oPT and MENARO are available upon request.

CHALLENGES
• Impossibility to conduct a rapid needs assessment due to insecurity
• Israeli military inability to provide safe routes for the UN/ UNICEF to deliver urgently needed supplies, ultimately impacting UN response to the crisis in Gaza.
• Security and lack of access to UNICEF warehouse due to ongoing fighting on the ground
• UN requests, on the ground in Gaza, are ignored by Israeli military.

 

 
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