Gaza: after donor conference, aid inflow still restricted, UN says

3 March 2009
The main commercial Karni Crossing

Despite calls at yesterday’s donor conference for the unfettered import of aid and reconstruction supplies to the combat-battered Gaza strip, Israeli authorities continue to block crucial supplies, the United Nations said today.

Key crossings remain closed or partially closed, reconstruction materials are still prohibited, and restrictions on food types, clothing and schoolbooks have been maintained, the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update on the situation in Gaza today.

“More than 80 percent of all goods currently allowed into Gaza are basic foods,” OCHA said, adding that materials for home rebuilding and repair of water, sanitation and power infrastructure were urgently needed.

As of 2 March, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), Gaza’s water utility, reported that 50,000 people still do not have access to piped water and an additional 100,000 receive water approximately every 7-10 days.

According to GEDCO, Gaza’s power utility, the power deficit throughout the Gaza Strip as of yesterday remained at 19 per cent, with 90 per cent of the Gaza population receiving intermittent electricity and 10 per cent completely off the grid.

Those conditions will not improve until the necessary pipes, generators and other basic supplies are allowed into Gaza, OCHA said.

At yesterday’s donor conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the situation at border crossings “intolerable,” stressing that opening them was the first priority for aid and reconstruction efforts.

Israel launched a three-week offensive in Gaza on 27 December 2008 with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups. At least 1,300 Palestinians were killed and some 5,300 were injured in the heavy bombardment and fighting in densely populated areas, which reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble.

In its update today, OCHA said that violent incidents in and around Gaza have continued in the period since 24 February, with seven rockets fired toward Israel and missiles fired by Israeli aircraft at tunnels at the Gaza-Egypt border, causing three Palestinian casualties.


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