Israeli airstrike on Gaza City (AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has launched a $164 million humanitarian and early recovery appeal following the offensive on the Israeli-blockaded Gaza in May 2021.
UNRWA said in a press release that this updated appeal incorporates the immediate emergency response actions implemented by UNRWA in Gaza and the West Bank between 10 and 31 May, as well as early recovery needs of Palestine refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until 31 December 2021. It supersedes the initial US$38m Flash Appeal that was issued on 19 May 2021.
“The impact of this conflict on Palestine refugees – like that of the three preceding rounds of violence – has been devastating,” said UNRWA commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “The trauma suffered by Gaza’ population, including some 1.4 million Palestine refugees, will continue to reverberate for a long time,” he added.
The air strikes have caused substantial damage to physical infrastructure, including homes and UNRWA installations and water and sanitation networks in refugee camps. UNRWA installations that served as designated emergency shelters also suffered damage with up to 71,000 people seeking shelter at the height of the conflict. As of 23 May, an estimated 7,500 Palestine refugees remain displaced, of whom 7150 individuals are sheltering with relatives and friends, and approximately 350 individuals remain in two UNRWA schools in Jabalia and Beach Camp.
The appeal outlines the needs for emergency shelter repairs, humanitarian assistance to displaced families and emergency repairs and maintenance of UNRWA installations. Also, funds will be required to temporarily subsidize rental payments for those Palestine refugee families whose shelters have been completely destroyed or damaged in the form of Transitional Shelter Cash Assistance.
An alarming number of Gaza’s citizens, particularly children, display physical and psychological signs of severe distress and are at risk of developing mental health disorders. The appeal outlines funds required for mental health and psychosocial support activities, including for desperately needed recreational and stress alleviation activities in a safe environment, as well as psychosocial assistance and referrals to more specialized mental health services, where needed. Summer fun weeks and after school activities will be organized for up to 150,000 children.
Other funding is requested for education in emergencies, environmental health, protection and emergency preparedness.
UNRWA added that the activities presented in this appeal can only be implemented if the Agency’s Programme Budget and oPt Emergency Appeal for 2021 receive contributions in the amount required to sustain staffing and infrastructure essential to the delivery of health, education, mental health, relief, environmental health, and protection services, as well as the coordination and management components of the response.
The Agency reiterated that the implementation of activities related to reconstruction in Gaza requires the smooth flow of goods and materials through the only designated entry point, Kerem Shalom Crossing.
“UNRWA is on the ground in Gaza ready to press on with the massive recovery efforts in a timely, efficient and secure manner. But we rely on the generous support of our partners to implement all the necessary reconstruction, humanitarian assistance and protection projects outlined in this urgent appeal,” concluded Commissioner-General Lazzarini.