The number of displaced Palestinians seeking shelter in UNRWA schools in Gaza has now equaled the peak number from the 2008/9 conflict, and exceeds 50,000 in 44 schools.
UNRWA is extremely concerned that a more intensive military operation will see these numbers rise even higher, causing additional burden on an already vulnerable population. UNRWA is especially concerned about the impact this is having on the 1.2 million refugees it serves, the majority of whom were already reliant on food and other assistance from the organization.
Director of Operations for UNRWA in Gaza, Robert Turner said “the speed with which this has happened is staggering. The number of displaced persons doubled in one day and more than 25,000 moved to our schools only yesterday; we are very concerned.”
“These men, women and children are relying on us to provide them with shelter, and the reality is that UNRWA only had relief supplies in stock for about 35,000 people. We are procuring additional supplies now but remain critically short of funds. We can get through today but if the situation continues to deteriorate and we receive more displaced in our schools, we will likely run out of basic stocks of mattresses and other vital supplies tomorrow.”
UNRWA is distributing available relief supplies on a daily basis. In partnership with the World Food Programme, UNRWA is providing one meal a day for people in its schools. It is also working with the UN cluster system to provide non-food items to needy families hosting relatives who have lost their homes due to the current conflict.
UNRWA has launched a Flash Appeal for USD 60 million to meet the urgent needs of displaced Gazans and for immediate recovery needs. New funding will enable UNRWA to respond to the immediate shelter, food, health and psychosocial needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), while replenishing emergency supplies and preparing for vital interventions necessary after a cessation of military activities.
According to the Protection Cluster, at least 312 people have died since 8 July, with the Palestinian Ministry of Health reporting more than 2,260 injuries. At least 70 children are among the dead.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 69 million.