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‘Unprecedented humanitarian crisis’ in Gaza, says UN update

Palestinian children play outside their home in the poverty-stricken quarter of Al-Zaytoon in Gaza City [Ezz Zanoun/Apaimages]

The occupied Gaza Strip faces “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, caused by over ten years of Israeli blockade, alongside an internal Palestinian divide”, and “restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on Rafah Crossing”, according to an update by the United Nations (UN).

These developments, said UN agency OCHA in a document published this week, “have triggered further deterioration in the humanitarian situation, impacting the availability of essential services and eroding the livelihoods of Gaza’s two million residents”.

Among the data included in the update is the number of hours of electricity supply per day; in 2017, the average daily figure in a given month was five hours, and never rose above eight. In 2018 to date, the average daily figure was six hours in January, five in February and March, and four in April.

Meanwhile, with respect to Palestinians’ access to piped water, measured as litres per capita per day (LCD), the figure for Gaza residents remains well under the recommended minimum.

UNICEF: Less than 4% of ground water in Gaza is usable

While the World Health Organisation’s recommended amount of water is 100 LCD, in 2018, the figure in Gaza has hovered between 71 and 73.

Another indicator of the crisis facing Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip is the percentage of drugs at zero stock level (that is, less than a month of stock).

According to the UN document, citing World Health Organisation statistics, in April this reached 50 per cent; by comparison, in March 2017 the figure was 28 per cent.

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