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240,000 in dire conditions in UN shelters in Gaza


1 August 2014. The conditions of the  240,000 Palestinians who have sought shelters in UN facilities in Gaza are increasingly desperate, Senior UN Officials told the Security Council yesterday.

UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, now appeals for immediate financial aid to cope with the situation.  In addition to the rising number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) nearly 97 UNRWA installations have been damaged to date. That includes health centres and schools that are currently being used as shelters for internally displaced people. 

Usually UNRWA provides shelter for 2,000 people, but during the four weeks of fighting the number has increased to 240,000.

UNRWA1“Conditions are increasingly dire in the shelters,” Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General told the UN Security Council via teleconference from Gaza City yesterday (31 July)

“There is no water for personal hygiene, very few showers and latrines are totally inadequate. Disease outbreak is beginning, with skin infections, scabies and others. There are thousands of pregnant women in our schools, deliveries are precarious and we are sheltering newborns in these appalling conditions. Our ability to mitigate this situation is of course heavily restricted by ongoing hostilities. “

The total number of displaced people in Gaza has risen to 440.000 or almost 24 per cent of the population. Those who are not being helped by UNRWA are seeking refuge in government buildings, hospital grounds or with family and friends. For the internally displaced people in Gaza the situation is getting more and more desperate and the intended ceasefires have not lasted as long as they were intended.

"People flee to areas they believe are safe from attack. But these areas are becoming harder to find," Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said in her briefing to the Security Council yesterday.
"So, they come to United Nations facilities for protection when their homes and neighbourhoods come under fire – more than 240,000 people. But over 103 UN facilities have come under attack including an UNWRA school hosting over 3,300 Wednesday," she stated.

The movement of people away from the areas of intense combat, especially those in Gaza City and North Gaza, has resulted in further overcrowding in UNRWA designated emergency shelters as well as numerous displaced persons seeking refuge in alternative premises that were not prepared to receive refugees.

The sole power plant in Gaza has been damaged. This is expected to have a significant impact on the availability of food and access to basic services. Further power cuts are now expected across the Gaza Strip, most significantly limiting electricity to two hours per day in Gaza city where UNRWA facilities are hosting over 49,000 internally displaced people, and completely cutting off power in the Middle Area where UNRWA schools are hosting over 23,000 people.

Based on these developments, UNRWA now appeals for a total of US$ 187,600,000 in order to provide emergency assistance. A portion of this funding will be needed to start early recovery activities including shelter and installation repair upon cessation of hostilities.

Source: UNRWA and UN News Centre


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