With severe restrictions on imports, exports and the movement of people, by land, air and sea due to Israeli blockade in Gaza, 1.6 million Palestinians living in the area are experiencing its devastating impact on their lives and livelihoods.
Reports say more than 80 per cent of families in Gaza are dependent on humanitarian aid.
As the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip now entering its sixth year, the top United Nations humanitarian official Valerie Amos called for its immediate lifting.
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos cites the blockade amounts to a collective punishment of all those living in Gaza and is a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law.
Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza for what it called security reasons after the Hamas group, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, ousted the Fatah movement in the Strip in 2007.
“While some steps have been taken to ease its impact, it is vital that the blockade be lifted immediately, so that essential services and infrastructure can be maintained.” – Ms. Amos
The UN relief chief also noted that the opportunity to develop a sustainable economy would also reduce dependence on humanitarian assistance.
She stresses that the rights of all civilians, Palestinian and Israeli, must be protected and respected at all times, within the framework of international law.
“All have a right to live free from the fear of indiscriminate violence and to live in peace, security and dignity.” -Ms. Amos
On July 2011, the United Nations and its diplomatic partners in the search for peace in the Middle East voiced concern about the continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Middle East Quartet, which comprises the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States, issued a statement in which the four members said the conditions faced by Gaza’s civilian population – estimated at around 1.5 million – were “unsustainable.”
Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza for what it said were security reasons after Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, ousted the Fatah movement in the Strip in 2007.
Quartet members also urged Israel to fully implement its decision in June 2010 to ease the blockade and to take “further meaningful steps to improve the situation in Gaza.”
UN has said effects of the war still persist in West Bank and Gaza and the humanitarian needs of the women, men and children of Gaza remain widespread and acute.
In 2009, Israel waged a fierce three-week military campaign in Gaza to stop rockets from being fired on its southern communities. Israel engaged a devastating air and ground campaign that left as many as 1,400 Palestinians dead by the time a cease-fire was unilaterally declared by both sides. Much of the region’s civil infrastructure and many homes were left in ruins during the three-week offensive that ended in January 2009. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.
“Lifestyle” diseases are taking an increasing toll among the Palestinians because of poverty, unemployment and budget limitations.
Sanitation and clean water services were also maintained in 2010, “notwithstanding difficulties faced in particular due to the closure regime and conflict in the occupied territories.”
The per-person budget has been roughly the same since 2008. The refugee population increased from 4.8 million in 2009 to 5 million in 2010. Almost 2 million live in the occupied Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank. The remainder are spread among Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
To address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians, the United Nations has launched an emergency appeal for Gaza and the West Bank worth just over 300 million US dollars.
UNRWA is the only UN agency directly providing essential services in education, health, microfinance and social safety-net support to Palestinian refugees.