Gaza Protection Situational Update #1


The situation in Gaza, previously a protection and humanitarian crisis, is now a catastrophe. People who had been living under blockade and Israeli occupation now find themselves under siege and under bombardment. 2.3M Palestinians in Gaza are without protection. There are no safe spaces and there are no routes to escape. People in Gaza have endured 21 days of the most intense conflict marked by relentless Israeli airstrikes, attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, continual denial of essential services (water, fuel and electricity) and humanitarian aid (including food and medicines). Evacuation orders affecting 1.226 million people (including 636,764 children) in Northern Gaza (including Gaza city) have led to forced displacement at a level vastly exceeding anything experienced in previous Gaza escalations. With the population increasingly concentrated in the southern areas of Rafah and Khan Younis, and the Middle, the capacity at UNRWA’s 92 Designated Emergency Shelters (DESs) in these locations is completely overwhelmed with people sleeping on the streets outside the facilities and in adjacent areas. Elsewhere, in North Gaza and Gaza governates, 57 UNRWA schools had been sheltering close to 159,968 IDPs before the evacuation orders; UNRWA is no longer able to assist or protect people in these areas and there is little information about their situation or living conditions. Serious psychosocial distress is pervasive across all population groups (men, women, boys and girls) including first line responders due to exposure to life-threatening events, displacement, loss of family members or friends, family separation, and lack of access to food, water and medicines.

Protection partners, including local NGOs on the ground, in Gaza have always been and will remain the backbone of protection responses. However, these are the very same people who are being injured, displaced, separated, traumatized and are grieving their loved ones. Communication with partners is unreliable at best and non-existent in some cases. In these conditions, the protection cluster is forced to prioritize the most immediate, lifesaving and time critical responses possible within the current constraints. At the same time, the Areas of Responsibility within the cluster (Child Protection, GBV, Legal Aid, Mine Action) are preparing a minimum protection response package to be rolled out when security and access improve, and appropriate levels of aid can be delivered.