Tragic Humanitarian Situation in Gaza

  • 17 February 2008

The UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, expressed his shock over the “tragically miserable” situation he witnessed in Gaza during his visit last week to the Palestinian Territory, which is toiling under a cruel Israeli siege.

This testimony made by an official dealing primarily with the humanitarian affairs of the United Nations confirms that the tragic situation that Gaza is facing has worsened. The siege has led to a virtual collapse of the economy of Gaza, as 80% of its 1.5 million inhabitants depend on food aid that arrives from outside the Strip. This siege has also led to a fall in the rate of flow of necessary goods into Gaza, reaching to 10% of what it was last year. According to available statistics, more than 70% of Palestinian families in Gaza are living below the poverty line, while 42% are enduring acute poverty. The unemployment rate has risen sharply to 36%. Undoubtedly, this disastrous situation in Gaza calls for immediate action from all sides to end this siege. The Israeli siege on Gaza and the extreme suffering it is causing the Palestinians in the Strip is a major crime committed against the inhabitants of the territory. Unfortunately, no one is acting toward the lifting of this siege. The relevant international organizations, the big powers involved in the peace process as well as Arab countries have made little effort toward lifting the siege of Gaza.

The growing suffering of Palestinians in Gaza has been further exacerbated by the infighting between Hamas and Fatah movements, and the state of separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is complete, both politically and geographically. This suffering must push both parties toward dissensions and start building a national consensus. Both Hamas and Fatah movements should seek to overcome their differences in order to overcome the current crisis that has undermined the Palestinian cause and has caused a disastrous situation for the Palestinians living in Gaza. Tel Aviv has used the conflict between the two movements and has tightened the siege on the Gaza Strip causing disastrous situation.