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UNRWA warns of ‘high cost’ consequences of Israeli siege on Gaza

A Palestinian man handles aid ditributed by UNRWA [file photo]
A Palestinian man handles aid distributed by UNRWA [file photo]

The commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned on Wednesday of the “high cost” consequences of the ten-year-old Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, Felesteen.ps has reported. Pierre Krähenbühl made his comments during a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories by the Japanese ambassador.

“The [Israeli] siege which has been imposed on Gaza for ten years has a high cost at all levels,” explained Krähenbühl, “including the economic, social and psychological aspects of Palestinian refugee life and the residents of Gaza in general.” He added that nobody wants more war in the territory because the humanitarian costs are unbearable. “The residents of Gaza are normal citizens like other citizens in the world and have their rights which should be respected.”

The senior UN official commented on the water crisis in the Gaza Strip. “Will there be safe and drinkable water in Gaza within the coming three years until 2020 or not?” The UN has pointed out that unless changes are made in policies affecting Gaza, the enclave will be “unliveable” by 2020.

Reports from the US suggest that new President Donald Trump is thinking about cutting its donations to UNRWA. “We are looking closely at what is going on in Washington,” said Krähenbühl, “but there have been no such decisions yet.” UNRWA operates entirely on voluntary donations from UN member states, of which the US is the largest donor. “The American administrations, Democrat or Republican, have dealt well with UNRWA,” he noted.

The Palestinians in Gaza, especially the young people, the UNRWA chief pointed out, do not want the world to look at them as victims. “They have positive and creative energy and they are able to win international challenge and creativity awards.” Unemployment, however, has “destructive” effects on all aspects of life and the “dignity” of the human beings in the Gaza Strip. “There are also psychological and mental effects,” Krähenbühl concluded.

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