Restrictions on imports and exports, in addition to limitations on humanitarian deliveries, continue to seriously affect the living conditions of the population of Gaza, the United Nations has reported.
The latest field update from the office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory states that, in the week ending 28 March, 721 truckloads of goods were allowed into Gaza, slightly down from 728 during the previous week.
Food supplies accounted for nearly 80 per cent of imported commodities, and this week items such as tea, yeast and salt that were barred since late October 2008 were allowed entry.
Meanwhile, no construction materials, industrial or electrical appliances, livestock, petrol or diesel fuel was allowed entry into Gaza during the week. In addition, some 35,000 people are without any access to water, down from 40,000 last week.
The update notes that the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza rely on local farming to produce affordable fresh foods, including fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Movement restrictions continue to prevent herders and farmers from accessing areas near the borders.
Furthermore, fishermen stand to lose substantial income as a result of new restrictions that limit fishing to three miles from Gaza’s shores.
On the health front, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and the World Health Organization (WHO) have voiced serious concern over the halting of patients leaving Gaza for specialised hospital treatment after Hamas took control of the health department tasked with making referrals abroad.
The office also reports that only 35 per cent of the $615 million Flash Appeal for Gaza launched on 2 February has been received. For example, the 27 agricultural recovery projects aimed at protecting the livelihoods of the most vulnerable farming families received only $2.3 million of the $30 million requested.
The Appeal includes nearly 200 projects by UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in response to the emergency humanitarian and early recovery needs of 1.4 million people in Gaza, following the end of the three-week Israeli military offensive launched in late December 2008 with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups.