In the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, around 2.1 million people need humanitarian assistance, among them 933,994 children. The situation in the State of Palestine remains a protracted protection crisis, exacerbated by the May 2021 escalation, the closure of the Gaza Strip, the COVID-19 pandemic and a deepening financial and fiscal crisis within the Palestinian economy.
UNICEF will address humanitarian and recovery needs resulting from the May 2021 escalation, support national COVID-19 response, expand services for vulnerable children, adolescents and women, and enhance the capacities of shock-responsive social protection mechanisms.
In 2022, UNICEF is requesting US$39.5 million to ensure 731,420 people have access to safe water for drinking and domestic needs and 108,000 children and women have access to primary healthcare in UNICEF-supported facilities. UNICEF will support 38,800 children and caregivers to access mental health and psychosocial services, while 60,000 children will receive individual learning materials.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The State of Palestine is beset by a protracted protection crisis and suffers from a chronic humanitarian situation. Around 2.1 million people, including 933,994 children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continue to be impacted. This crisis is exacerbated by Israel’s occupation of the State of Palestine, with the closure of the Gaza Strip and the escalation in May 2021 contributing to fueling tensions leading to conflicts,10 but also the COVID-19 pandemic, the internal Palestinian political divide, and a deepening fiscal and financial crisis within the Palestinian economy.
This humanitarian situation compounds multi-sectoral and household vulnerabilities increasing child protection risks, as some actors scaled down due to financial cuts. This hampers reaching the most vulnerable, particularly girls, and generates additional needs for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).11 The protection cluster estimates that 678,000 children (345,800 boys and 332,200 girls) require child protection and MHPSS services, as do 185,000 caregivers (137,000 in the Gaza Strip).12 Domestic violence is widespread; approximately 90 per cent of Palestinian children face some form of violent discipline at home,13 including 20.1 per cent subjected to severe physical violence from their caregivers. Furthermore, 10.3 per cent of children are engaged in child labour, 14 including hazardous labour. 15 The consequences of COVID-19 and the recurrent conflict-related violence are severely impacting children’s well-being and increasing the risks of negative coping mechanisms, particularly for the most vulnerable.
Insufficient water supply to households, poor sanitation and solid waste services, limited public WASH services and risk of flooding are further putting 1.36 million Palestinians at risk of waterborne diseases.16 The COVID-19 pandemic and the escalation of May 2021 led to extended school closures, impacting children’s access to education as well as learning outcomes. The education cluster estimates that 579,173 Palestinians (56 per cent women and girls),17 including around 13,398 children with disabilities, will miss access to learning in 2022.18 Health services were also overstretched and disrupted during and following the May 2021 escalation in Gaza, leaving an estimated 1.5 million people with limited access to primary healthcare,19 among them 700,000 children.
The rapid damage needs assessment conducted after the escalation indicated that approximately 8,000 households will fall into poverty in the coming months, which calls for an enhanced humanitarian social protection response. This includes an estimated 7,000 children in families whose homes were partially or completely damaged.