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Information Note 16 - 19 January 2009

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As relative calm returns to Gaza for the first time in three-weeks following the cease-fire, the influx of injured people to health facilities continues. According to the Ministry of Health, casualties as at 18 January are 1,305 killed (410 children and 104 women) and 5,450 injured (1855 children and 795 women). The increase in the death count is due to the identification of bodies discovered in areas that were previously inaccessible. 

Nine Israeli soldiers have been killed during the operation. According to the Magen David Adom national society (Israeli equivalent to Red Cross and Red Crescent Society), Israeli civilian casualties stand at four and 84 injured since 27 December.

Handicap international has estimated that up to 50% of the injured have sustained severe injuries such as fractures, amputations, burns and head injuries that will require rehabilitation in order to prevent permanent disability. At least 200-300 new amputees will result from this crisis. In addition, burns resulting from white phosphorus are usually severe and deep, and will require long and intensive rehabilitation to prevent long-term disability.

Ceasefire took effect from 02:00hrs on 18 January. Although aerial bombardments appear to have ceased, there are reported clashes between Israeli forces and militants in the north. One Palestinian farmer was killed today and his son was injured while inspecting the damages to their land east of Khan Younis. (UNRWA Operational Update)

Fifty shelters provided refuge for 50,896 people on 17 January. On 18 January, those remaining in the shelters were 46,234 (a decrease of 4662).

Israel's newly appointed coordinator for humanitarian aid to Gaza, Welfare Minister Issac Herzog, toured southern Israel on 18 January, but his office has not yet said anything about humanitarian aid for Gaza.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health issued a critical statement today on the opening of a medical clinic by the Israeli forces at Erez crossing.

Under-Secretary-General of Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Holmes is expected to visit Gaza on Thursday 22 January.

A flash appeal, inter-agency humanitarian response strategy,  is expected in  the next ten days on the early early recovery phase before moving to early recovery.

UNICEF senior staff will join the Inter-Agency Rapid Early Assessment missions to Gaza planned for this week. Currently UNDSS is conducting a security assessment in Gaza.

The UNICEF supported cold chain vaccine storage facility in Gaza is now functional and routine vaccines are available until March. MOH has started distribution of vaccines to its 34 PHC clinics that provides the immunization services. The MOH is also preparing for an MMR vaccination campaign.  UNICEF local partners in Gaza,  UHWC and Ard Al-Insan clinics and therapeutic feeding centers are  now providing nutritional care and support services to children and women.  Plans are also being made with partners to conduct a Rapid Nutrition survey and scale-up the response with a focus on infant and young child nutrition, the needs of pregnant and lactating women, treatment of severe acute malnutrition and micronutrient supplementation. 

UNICEF provided 1,200 water bottles to Save the Children from its warehouse in Gaza on 18 January for distribution to the conflict affected families. UNICEF as the cluster lead is coordinating remote needs assessment (getting information through households and NGOs on the ground) until entry in Gaza this week. The  Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities (CMWU) in Gaza has requested UNICEF to support with the most urgent repairs  to restore water supply and fix damaged sewerage lines.

Key meetings are taking place with partners in UNESCO and UNICEF offices tomorrow. The goal is to make all 370 government schools open as soon as possible. There will be a rapid assessment of damaged schools when the team enters Gaza this week. UNICEF has already trained 18 staff at the Ministry of Education will use the INEE tool (education under emergency) in Gaza which is available in Arabic. The goal is to have 40,000 children in schools in the first wave in early February.

Child Protection and Adolescent Development and Participation
UNICEF will lead a psychosocial group meeting with partners in Gaza tomorrow. Two UNICEF radio spots on mine risk education will be aired as of tomorrow in four local radio stations in Gaza.

During this week’s Humanitarian Country Team advocacy meeting it was recommended for all UN agencies to properly start documentation of all damages to properties and beneficiaries as soon as access is granted. In addition, OHCHR will be sending monitors to Gaza as of next week. Daily media/ interview logs, directly or via UNICEF National Committees, with oPT and MENARO are available upon request. UNICEF oPT continues to share new photos and videos from Gaza with HQ- all available via DoC/New York.

Six trucks of hygiene kits, currently within oPT, on the border with Gaza are due to enter tomorrow. Initially 800 kits (one kit per family) will be distributed to families seeking refuge in UNRAW operated emergency shelters/schools. The rest will be in the warehouse with other partners as soon as needs assessment is conducted and distribution plan finalized.   The delivery table will be updated tomorrow as soon as the kits are delivered.

Due to the nature of the emergency and depending on the types of items, UNICEF is looking into NGO assessment of procurement capacity. UNICEF is in discussion to explore new channels of distribution such as a new local transporter on the ground and expanded warehousing capacity.



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