U.N. decries dire Gaza conditions, calls for action
By Mohamed Maged, Monday, April 07, 2014
GAZA CITY – James W. Rawley, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has described humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip as among the most difficult in the world.
At a Monday press conference near the Israel-Gaza Karni border crossing – closed by Israel for the last ten years – Rawley said Gaza's humanitarian situation continued to worsen despite ongoing Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
At the conference, held to commemorate the launch of a 2013 report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Rawley asserted that Israel's eight-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip was hindering development in the Palestinian enclave and hurting the coastal strip's economy.
Rawley called for allowing construction materials into the territory and allowing farmers and fishermen to access their places of work.
He said Gaza had the right to have access to clean drinking water – through the desalination of seawater – and electric power.
The U.N. official called on Egyptian authorities to help alleviate the suffering of the strip's inhabitants by allowing individuals, consumer goods and medical supplies into Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.
Gaza residents complain that frequent border closures by Egypt, in conjunction with the eight-year-old Israeli embargo, have contributed to the strip's worsening economic and humanitarian circumstances.
Egypt has tightened its grip on its border with Gaza since last July, when the army ousted Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president.
Egyptian authorities accuse Hamas, which has governed the strip since 2007, of interfering in Egypt's domestic affairs and carrying out attacks inside the country – charges Hamas emphatically denies.
Meanwhile, Scott Anderson, deputy director of UNRWA's Gaza operations, said living conditions inside the strip had severely deteriorated in 2013 due to the continued lack of construction materials.
He added that Gaza's unemployment rate had hit 38.5 percent, while the number of refugees in need of aid had reached 800,000.
Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency
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