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UNRWA: Israeli siege damaging Gaza's economy

The Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for a decade has damaged the enclave's economy and led to high unemployment rates, UNRWA said.

"The heavy restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza have not only crushed the enclave's originally trade-based economy, they are also responsible for sky-rocketing unemployment rates, extreme poverty, food insecurity," the report said.

It also stated that the blockade "contributes to depression, hopelessness and confinement, particularly among youth."

"The blockade creates high additional costs for humanitarian organisations operating in the Strip, reducing already scarce financial means for humanitarian interventions."

"In 2015 alone, additional staffing, transit and logistical costs resulting from Israeli requirements regarding access and monitoring of all UNRWA imports into the Gaza Strip amounted to almost $8.6 million."

"This is equivalent to the cost of building six UNRWA schools or distributing food to the current caseload of approximately 930,000 beneficiaries for five weeks."

According to the report, the $8.6 million "does not include similar access costs that private contractors have incurred for shipping construction materials into Gaza through Kerem Shalom [crossing] under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM)."

It continued: "Such additional costs have also impacted the agency's cash assistance for self-help repair and reconstruction interventions under the GRM."

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