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UN urges Egypt to regularly open Rafah crossing

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Egyptian authorities to put in place a regular schedule to open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt to allow for the movement of people, especially humanitarian cases.

In a report on the developments in Palestine discussed by the members of the UN General Assembly yesterday, Ki-moon said that the UN’s ultimate goal for Gaza is still to end all border closures in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 in a manner that alleviates the suffering of Gaza residents.

The UN adopted Resolution 1860 on 9 January, 2009. It calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Strip. It also calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza, including allowing the passage of food, fuel and medical treatment through Gaza’s crossings.

Ki-moon expressed his deep concern regarding the rise in the unemployment rate in Gaza, which reached 43 per cent at the end of 2014.

“If the causes behind the previous conflicts are not resolved as soon as possible, then the deteriorating situation in Gaza will inevitably escalate and the danger of violence and extremism will increase,” he added.

Ki-moon also noted that the situation in Gaza is still volatile, mainly due to the poor social and economic situation in the Strip, as well as a result of the delay in reconstruction, the deterioration of internal security, the continued restrictions imposed on the movement of people and the deepening of the political divide between various Palestinian factions.

Egyptian authorities have maintained an almost complete closure on the Rafah crossing since July 2013, only opening it for humanitarian cases. Egypt has stated that the opening of the crossing is dependent on the security situation in north Sinai.

Gaza’s Interior Ministry claims that the Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing closed for 300 days since the beginning of this year, and that the crossing was only opened for 19 days on an exceptional basis and on occasion for humanitarian cases.

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