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UNRWA calls for unimpeded passage into Gaza for vital goods

UNRWA distributes food aid to families in Gaza, 2 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
UNRWA distributes food aid to families in Gaza, 2 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) called on Tuesday for all vital goods to be granted unimpeded passage into the besieged Gaza Strip, including fuel for electricity. UNRWA made the appeal against the background of 14 years of an illegal blockade and the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The agency in Gaza is extremely concerned about the closure of the lone power plant since last Tuesday, 18 August,” UNRWA said. “The closure of the plant has caused the power feed to decline to two or three hours per day, followed by 20 hours of interruption.”

This, explained UNRWA, will have a negative impact on the wellbeing and safety of the people of Gaza and devastating effects on the Strip’s vital services, including hospitals. “Thus, this puts at risk the lives and health of nearly two million people, including 1.4 million registered Palestine refugees.”

The official statement from the UN agency pointed out that, “Under international humanitarian law, the passage of all relief consignments, in this case fuel for electricity, should not be prevented.”

Commenting on the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in the Palestinian territory, Matthias Schmale, said that the call is being made to all concerned parties to maintain a supply of electricity that is sufficient to meet the basic needs of the civilian population. “UNRWA is, furthermore, concerned about other measures perceived as punitive to the civilian population, such as closing down the fishing zone, as well as the escalating tensions and military activities.”

Gaza, Schmale pointed out, has now been hit by air raids for more than ten nights in a row. “All parties must show utmost restraint and protect the civilian population with full respect for their dignity and human rights.”

READ: Gaza on alert as 4 coronavirus cases detected 

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