Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Filippo Grandi yesterday called on Israel and Egypt to lift the siege that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than half a decade.
Grandi said the siege on the Gaza Strip is considered the longest in history; longer than that of Sarajevo, Berlin and Leningrad.
The UNRWA official acknowledged Israeli and Egyptian security concerns but insisted that the plight of about 1.8 million residents in the Strip also needs to be considered.
He said that the Rafah Crossing has been closed for the seventh consecutive week and it is necessary to remind Egypt of its obligations towards patients and students who are in desperate need to travel.
"I think the world should not forget about the security of the people of Gaza," he said. "Their security is worth the same as everybody else's security so we appeal to the humanitarian sense of all."
Grandi called the Israeli blockade on Gaza "illegal and [it] must be lifted". He said that there are infrastructure projects run by the UNRWA worth $150 million. These projects are suspended until Israel lifts the siege, further harming the Palestinians.
"I also want to make a strong appeal for export to resume because the lack of export is the main reason for the poverty of Gaza," Grandi said.
The official, who is leaving his office next week, said that the Gaza Strip has been suffering from a dangerous water problem, citing data mentioned in the UN 2020 report.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad