UN officials warn of humanitarian crisis in Gaza

3 Min Read

CAIRO/GAZA: A senior United Nations official voiced concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation inside the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, joining an anxious chorus of international figures worried about the effects of the two-month closure of the Strip’s borders.

The main border crossing between Gaza and Israel, Karni checkpoint, has been shut since June 9, when the Hamas takeover of the territory sparked internal fighting there.

Border closures and restrictions on the movement of goods have slashed exports and forced factories to close, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians without jobs or income.

According to UN figures, before the June blockade began roughly two-thirds of Gaza’s residents lived below the poverty line. Officials worry that if the current restrictions remain in place, that figure could skyrocket.

Kevin Kennedy, the deputy UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said in a statement that while the basic humanitarian needs of Gaza s estimated population of 1.4 million people are largely being met, the conditions remain very difficult. He said that as a result of the border closure tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs and income, and that as a result the demand for UN humanitarian assistance had increased dramatically.

During an Aug. 9 visit to Gaza City, Filippo Grandi, deputy commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which cares for millions of Palestinian refugees, struck a similar chord. He demanded that Israel re-open the main crossing into Gaza.

“Failure to do this will lead to disastrous consequences: an atmosphere of hopelessness and despair in which extremism is likely to take hold, said Grandi.

“This is not in the interests of anyone who sincerely seeks a lasting peace, in which the Palestinian people can live in dignity, he added.

According to the latest figures from the Palestinian Association of Businessmen, the already anemic Gazan economy has lost $23 million since June. If the closures are not lifted, the group estimates that more than 120,000 Gazan workers could lose their jobs.

International development projects are also threatened by the closures, according to Maher Nasser, the UN spokesman in Egypt.

He says that import restrictions on building materials such as concrete and steel have brought $160 million worth of construction projects financed by UNRWA and the UN Development Program to a halt.

“If what is left of the Gazan economy is allowed to collapse, then poverty will rise and the people will become totally dependent on foreign aid, he told Daily News Egypt.

“Israel must reopen the border crossing or risk serious humanitarian consequences.

Share This Article
Leave a comment