Gaza Crisis January 2009:
Initial Response Plan and Immediate Funding Needs
Humanitarian Country Team, occupied Palestinian territory
8 January 2009
The ongoing Israeli military operation and heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which commenced on 27 December 2008, continues to compound an already grave humanitarian crisis.
The ground incursion which began on 3 January 2009 was preceded by intensive shelling from air and sea along the entire length of the border inside Gaza. According to the Ministry of Health, as of noon on 6 January 573 Palestinians have been killed and 2,745 have been injured since the start of Israeli military operations. At least 30% of the fatalities and 45% of the wounded are women and children. The death toll is expected to rise further as clashes in densely-populated urban areas continue.
Significant damage to, and destruction of, key roads, power and water infrastructure and buildings has been reported, including to a large gas storage facility and electricity transformers, posing immediate risk to health.
The Israeli military operation follows an 18-month-long blockade of the Gaza Strip which has depleted stocks of relief items on which much of the population depends, crippled the private sector, and driven unprecedented numbers of Palestinians out of work and self-sufficiency and into poverty. The crisis had already left most of the population of 1.5 million unable to exercise its most basic rights and access to services amidst a collapse of infrastructure and severe shortages of power, water, food and medical supplies.
It is realistic to assume that the 80% of the population already dependent on humanitarian assistance will increase further once fresh needs assessments can be safely carried out.
During the preparation of the 2009 Consolidated Appeal (CAP), the core assumption of all partners in relation to Gaza was to anticipate further violence, no easing of the closures, and a further degradation in the population’s living conditions.
Given the reflection of likely scenarios in the 2009 CAP, and until access to and within Gaza is safe for specialist personnel, inter-agency assessments are being carried out based on information from the extensive network of humanitarian staff who continue to operate in Gaza.
2. Immediate priority needs and initial response plan per sector
• Psycho-social teams on the ground and working with families as soon as conditions allow;
• Distribution of child protection kits.
• Blankets, candles and non-food items for 13-15,000 displaced people, including 5,500 people living in emergency shelters;
• Urgent repairs to hundreds of thousands of homes, including basic plastic sheeting for windows.
Food Aid and Food Security:
• Sugar and 450 metric tones of wheat flour needed per day (for entire population);
• Cooking gas for large part of population;
• Bread and high-energy biscuits in the absence of cooking gas.
• Spare parts for generators, damaged pumps, water wells, and other essential water/sanitation infrastructure;
• Fuel to run water and sewage pumps, generators, etc;
• Tankered water;
• Technical expertise to repair damaged infrastructure;
• Chlorine tablets for wells and domestic water supply.
Agricultural livelihoods are in grave danger of being lost forever unless there is urgent intervention with:
• Technical expertise for repairing broken irrigation pipes, water sources;
• Seeds, tools and other agricultural essentials.
Cash for Work/Assistance:
No money has been allowed into Gaza from UNRWA accounts in the West Bank since the beginning of November 2008. Until this situation has been resolved, all cash projects are on hold.
A number of schools have been damaged and others are used as shelters. A more in-depth needs assessment will be carried out when conditions allow.
• Increased civilian casualties in the face of limited hospital bed/care capacity coupled with controlled external referral care will only result in a higher number of preventable deaths (tetanus, gangrene, hemorrhagic shock, etc.) and physical and mental disabilities;
• Contamination of water and sewage lines with intermittent electricity to health facilities may result in outbreaks of water-borne disease. Worsening hygiene and sanitation inside and outside health facilities will yield life-threatening nosocomial infections (septicemia, osteomyelitis etc.) and will inevitably affect health outcomes.
• The psycho-social dimension is underestimated due to the prolonged blockade compounded by poverty and restrictions in previous months;
• With a health system already reportedly on the brink of collapse, a grave concern is a spike in maternal and infant mortality because of limited pre-natal, natal and postnatal care. Unmanaged chronic diseases will only add to the preventable disease burden;
• Coordination of health interventions by partners becomes increasingly difficult and involves other countries, including Egypt;
• Influx of unsolicited supplies through various Gaza crossing points poses a special challenge for coordination, warehousing, transport and quality control.
Gaps in specific drugs stocks and medical equipment will be identified in coming days as donated supplies are processed, recorded and checked against hospital requirements.
Coordination and Support Services:
WFP are leading the newly-formed logistics cluster and additional funding is needed to meet the huge demand for this support service.
3. Immediate funding needs
The funding needs of the immediately-needed projects highlighted here amount to $117.4 million. Of this, $21.7 million is reported to be already committed by donors for these projects, leaving an unfunded requirement of $95.6 million.
The highlighted projects are a blend of new projects and some projects already presented in the 2009 Consolidated Appeal for oPt that have been selected by the clusters as most relevant and urgent for the current crisis. Some of the latter have budget increases, and in all cases the partners proposing them have reviewed and if necessary re-oriented their projects appropriately for the current emergency.
The new projects and budget increases of existing CAP projects have been added to the CAP, raising its overall requirements for 2009 raised from US$1462 million to $530 million, an increase of $68 million. This includes $34.4 million for the UNRWA Gaza ‘Flash Appeal’2, a target of $10 million increase for the Humanitarian Response Fund (to quickly fund unpredicted emergency responses), $9.3 million for the World Food Program (for additional food and to lead the newly-established logistics cluster), $10.5 million for WHO, $835,000 for Accion Contra el Hambre, and $3 million for UNICEF.
A specialist needs assessment team will be deployed to Gaza once it is safe to do so, but in the meantime donor partners are strongly encouraged to make early financing decisions for immediate disbursement based on the new, existing and revised projects from the 2009 CAP selected by the clusters and highlighted here.3
Summary of Gaza requirements and funding to date per sector
Schematic of relation between new and original CAP requirements
List of highlighted Gaza projects (click on links to open full details)
Document Type: Plan, Report
Document Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO)
Subject: Economic issues, Education and culture, Food, Gaza Strip, Health, Humanitarian relief, Living conditions, NGOs/Civil Society, Protection, Shelter, Water
Publication Date: 08/01/2009