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Gaza Situation - Report 43

24 hour reports by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)

Due to the dramatic escalation in violence over the past few days and the massive assault on Gaza, UNRWA has declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip. It is closely monitoring the situation and stands ready to mount an emergency response should that become necessary. The priority for the Agency has now shifted to emergency operations, providing assistance to those who have been displaced and sought shelter in UNRWA schools, while attempting to continue regular operations. Urgent funding needs persist and are increasing

Key parts:

Dramatic increase in IDP numbers due to military escalation: 261,341 displaced in 82 UNRWA shelters.

According to preliminary information by the Protection Cluster 17 killed in the past 24 hours. The cumulative Palestinian death toll climbed to 1,999, including 467 children and 244 women. Over the course of the military escalation, 66 Israelis were killed, including 64 soldiers, two civilians plus one foreign national.

Unexploded ordnance clearance is set back to the start, which will have a knock-on effect to UNRWA assessments of installations and shelters. Dwellings were damaged or destroyed overnight, and one school in Nuseirat sustained damage.”

The Agency is particularly concerned that out of the 417 newborn children, who started their lives as IDPs in UNRWA schools, at least two were born in the overcrowded classrooms. Pregnant mothers were too scared to go to the hospitals for delivery.”

Schools currently used as shelters will require varying degrees of rehabilitation in order to be ready for normal schooling, at least some three weeks subsequent to the clearance of unexploded ordnance through UNMAS [United Nations Mine Action Service] and IDPs moving out of the schools. UNRWA’s 8,000 teachers are, like all Palestinians, personally affected by the war and have lost loved ones, their home, shelter the displaced, or volunteer to help those in need. More than 900 education staff are working round the clock in the shelters and are in a state of emotional and physical exhaustion. The children, which are supposed to learn the Palestinian Authority curriculum and a dedicated Human Rights curriculum developed by UNRWA, have been severely affected by their experiences and as such need to be supported in the transition back to school.

Security remains a concern particularly with regards to the presence of explosive remnants of war and the life threatening risks they imply for children. Insecurity in their homes and precarious living conditions will need to be addressed.”

With its palm fringed roads and villas, Khuza’a used to be one of the very few pleasant locations in the Gaza Strip. Close to the fence, the tiny town was occupied by Israel and shelled to ruins over the past month.

14 of 21 health centers were operating. 94 per cent of the staff reported to work, and 17,132 patients were served on 19 August.

Under its Community Mental Health Program (CMHP), 91 UNRWA counselors reported to the shelters on 19 August. So far the CMHP has provided 15,622 sessions encompassing mental health awareness, psychosocial support for 130,833 parents (74,138 women and 56,695 men) and recreational and animation activities to 147,246 children (75,175 girls and 72,071 boys). CMHP also coordinated and supervised the implementation of 3,929 sessions by partners, covering 21,613 adult IDP’s (14,781 women and 6,832 men) and 108,146 children (53,567 boys and 54,579 girls).”

UNRWA’s regular food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 7,112 families through all 12 UNRWA distribution centers.”

Reportedly, there were 62 rockets and 5 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 85 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 20 navy shells. 67 tank shells were fired from the fence into populated areas. Reportedly, 8 houses were bombarded.

Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 109 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.

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