US Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said yesterday that Gaza’s “crumbling infrastructure, poor living conditions and fragile healthcare system make it ill-equipped to face a major spike in [COVID-19] cases.”
In a briefing he made to the Security Council, Mladenov said: “We meet today as Palestinians and Israelis continue their efforts to prevent and control the spread of the deadly covid-19 virus. After weeks of declining numbers, however, active cases are again on the rise.”
“Gaza remains the most immediate and pressing concern. Its crumbling infrastructure, poor living conditions and fragile healthcare system make it ill-equipped to face a major spike in cases,” he continued.
“Already affected by severe movement and access restrictions, cycles of violent escalation and years of humanitarian and socio-economic calamity, the two million Palestinians living within Gaza’s confines would face catastrophic consequences from a major outbreak.”
The US envoy continued: “Eight months into the pandemic, Palestinian unemployment levels are alarmingly high – 121,000 Palestinians lost their jobs in the wake of the first lockdown and employment figures declined by 17 per cent in Gaza.”
Some 40 percent of Palestinian households lost more than half their income in this period and food insecurity rates have soared. The most recent reports suggest any recovery will be slow and partial.
Mladenov stated that “women and children continue to bear the brunt of the combined effect of the pandemic and the socio-economic crisis across the OPT.”
According to Mladenov, “the United Nations and its partners have continued to provide critical humanitarian and development assistance” in order to address this emergency.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza carried out 2,289 tests for COVID-19 yesterday and recorded 368 new cases, bringing the accumulated number of cases to 12,439 with 41 in a critical condition and 341 in need for medical care.