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UNDP official: Israel denies development rights in Gaza

April 27, 2011 6:52 P.M. (Updated: April 28, 2011 3:02 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- UNDP's Gaza office head Sascha Garumann said Wednesday that the international community must re-focus on development in the enclave, despite the "serious impediment" of Israel's blockade and occupation.

The bulk of international efforts go to humanitarian assistance, the development agency official said, urging the community to "go beyond" emergency support.

Palestinians are "highly educated, and can help themselves," he told Ma'an.

At the same time, the policies of Israel in Gaza "deny [Palestinian] rights to development," Garumann said, noting "you can't develop an economy in this context."

Recent changes to the blockade were "very minimal," he continued.

His comments followed a tour of a UNDP-supervised project in the Strip, funded by the Japanese government, to develop the skills of youth by placing them with NGOs for six-month periods, enabling them to practically apply their abilities. The project targets around 230 graduates who are unemployed, Garumann said during the tour.

The project should highlight to the international community and donors the type of projects that can be achieved in Gaza, he said. Israel's policies are "not an excuse for us," he said.

"We believe that Palestinian youth and all Palestinians support development," Garumann said during his project-visit, but Israel's closure "hinders the development process in Gaza."

UNDP is working hard with the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop these policies against Gaza, Garumann said.
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