Fuel shortages continue to hamper basic functions in Gaza – UN aid agency

4 March 2008

The Gaza Strip continues to be plagued by fuel shortages, leaving many ambulances unable to function and ensuring most residents have only an intermittent water supply, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported today.

Some 30 out of 87 ambulances run by the Health Ministry and the Red Crescent in Gaza cannot operate because of the lack of fuel, UNRWA said, while all 140 water wells in the area have now run out of fuel.

The fuel shortages have been a persistent problem because of Israel’s tight restrictions on the passage of goods into or out of Gaza since the middle of last year, and senior UN officials have called on Israel to ease those restrictions to allow the passage of goods needed for basic functions.

The situation is particularly difficult in the wake of the upsurge of violence over the past week that has led to the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza, as well as the deaths of at least two Israeli soldiers and an Israeli civilian.

UNRWA reported that four of its schools in Gaza City and Rafah sustained damage as a result of Israeli operations in the area in recent days.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed Australia’s Maxwell Gaylard as his Deputy UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO).

In this capacity, Mr. Gaylard will also serve as the UN Coordinator for humanitarian and development activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Mr. Gaylard, who has been acting as Deputy Special Coordinator since last November, has previously served as Director of the UN Mine Action Service and as a senior UN humanitarian and coordination official in Somalia, Sudan and northern Iraq.

 

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