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UN agency says situation in Gaza is still "extremely bleak" due to blockade

February 20, 2014 at 3:31 pm

The situation in Gaza is still extremely bleak, according to the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has said that Gaza’s 1.5 million people, almost half of them children, remain trapped due to the imposition of the “illegal, inhumane and counter-productive blockade” on the territory.

Despite being “encouraged by positive developments – the shops are full of consumer goods, for example… the plight of the people is still desperate”, said John Ging, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza. “Eighty percent of the population is aid dependent,” he said, so cannot afford to buy what is in the shops.” Mr. Ging stressed the need to revive the commercial sector and resuscitate the import and export economy, with 95 per cent of the business sector now dormant, so as to get people back to work and off aid dependency.

Mentioning the education situation in Gaza, Mr. Ging told reporters in New York that UNRWA had asked for approval for the construction of 100 schools, “Yet, only six schools have been approved for construction.” This means that UNRWA will turn away 34,000 children seeking a school place.
He also noted that tens of thousands of houses are still in ruins after they were destroyed in Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip and that “the water situation is in crisis, 90 per cent according to the World Health Organization calculations is unfit for human consumption, 80 million cubic litres of sewage continues to be pumped out into the Mediterranean every single day untreated.”