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UNRWA: Situation in Gaza moving from ‘bad to worse’

July 1, 2019 at 10:59 am

Matthias Schmale (C), Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza speaks during a press conference held at Press House, a non-profit media organization based in Gaza, on 30 June 2019 in Gaza City, Gaza. [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

Director of UNRWA’s operations in Gaza Matthias Schmale yesterday warned that the situation in the besieged Gaza Strip “is moving from bad to worse”, the Anadolu Agency reported.

“The social and economic situation in Gaza is moving from bad to worse,” Schmale told a meeting organised by Press House in Gaza.

The UN official blamed the 12-year-old Israeli blockade on Gaza for the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territory, which is home to nearly two million people.

“It has caused higher unemployment rates, economic collapse and restriction of free trade,” Schmale said.

According to the Palestinian Centre of Bureau of Statistics, unemployment in Gaza continues to rise, reaching 52 per cent in 2018, an increase of almost eight per cent since 2017 and of more than 20 per cent since Israel imposed the closure in 2007.

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A recent report for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) found that food insecurity affected two thirds of the population in Gaza.

It said that some 70 per cent of non-refugees in Gaza are food-insecure, as against 67 per cent of refugees in the enclave.

Israel imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Palestinian group Hamas seized control of the strip from its rival group Fatah, ending more than a year of security chaos erupted by Fatah’s rejection to recognise Hamas’ victory in the elections.

Established in 1949, UNRWA delivers critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.