Our primary goal in Gaza is to ensure uniform, consistent and poverty-enhancing interventions and targeting that will allow us to alleviate household suffering, integrate human development work and make effective use of resources available. The merger of the Emergency Program with Relief and Social Services in April of 2013 led to many structural changes and the addition of a number of units and divisions that enabled us to focus on more sustainable programs in our various divisions. We hope that we will now be able to formulate a comprehensive program to better serve the Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip.
In Gaza, we provide poor Palestine refugees with social safety net assistance on a quarterly basis, and work to promote the development and self-reliance of the underprivileged members of the refugee community, especially women, children, youth, persons with disabilities and the elderly.
The Relief and Social Services Program also maintains and keeps the records and documents of registered Palestine refugees in order to determine eligibility for UNRWA services. Those registered refugees who have been identified as “extremely poor” or, in other words, the poorest receive assistance through the social safety net.
Emergency food aid has become part of UNRWA’s intervention since the early 2000s, when the second intifada and its aftermath brought about a fundamental change in the socio-economic conditions of the Gaza Strip. Since then, we have taken different approaches to targeting emergency food aid recipients, including an income-based approach, such as a salary threshold, as well as poverty-based approaches. In 2013, nearly 700,000 Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip received emergency food assistance.
Community-based rehabilitation is an important part of our work in Gaza. It is a set of strategies that aim to rehabilitate and socially integrate all persons with disabilities while offering them equal opportunities. We implement CBR through the combined efforts of persons with disabilities themselves, their families and their communities with appropriate health, educational, vocational and social services. In 2012, the DRS Disability Program worked with a total of 17,851 men, women, and children with disabilities, including both registered refugees and unregistered individuals.
We are also working on implementing programs specifically for women, through seven women’s program centers, aimed at empowering refugee women, improving their economic status and social development, and enhancing their role within the family and society alike, in addition to enhancing their self-confidence and self-reliance. In 2012, the Women’s Program Centers served a total of 28,486 women and provided them with a wide range of activities.
UNRWA places a special emphasis on youth, in light of their current situation and the numerous agreements that address their rights, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our program seeks to enhance the well-being of children and youth and increase their participation in constructive activities. We work to provide capacity building and awareness raising activities, as well as sports, cultural and recreational opportunities. In 2012, the program served a total of 25,527 children and youth.
In addition to young people, we also work with orphans. Our sub-program provides special care for orphans through a project funded by the Red Crescent Society in the United Arab Emirates. It provides cash aid and aims to enhance the advancement of refugee orphans as partners in the development process by enhancing their role and active participation in the development of their families and communities. By December 2012, the program provided its services to a total of 2459 orphans.
Our program also focuses on the elderly, and aims to improve their daily living conditions, provide them with the necessary assistance and encourage their full participation in society. In addition to cash aid, the program provides direct assistance such as wheelchairs, walking aids and medical mattresses. By December 2012, the program had provided services to a total of 2,474 beneficiaries.
The Relief and Social Services Program provides interventions through the Social Intervention Unit by collecting data on registered refugees and deciding the type of intervention required. The Social Intervention Unit was established in April of 2013, but it started working informally in June of 2011. Since then, we have registered 368 cases of social intervention.