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UN appeals for funding to address 'spiraling' humanitarian crisis in Gaza

July 3, 2017 9:48 P.M. (Updated: July 4, 2017 4:13 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- United Nations humanitarian organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory appealed on Monday for funding to address the “spiraling” situation in the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to a statement published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the agencies requested some $25 million in funding during a meeting with diplomats in Jerusalem.

The additional funding would seek to “mitigate the effects of deep power cuts and lack of fuel” that have severely affected Gaza’s infrastructure -- such as water treatment plants and sewage systems -- and its health sector, the statement said.

The funding would also help assist some 100,000 food-insecure families, the OCHA statement added.

Gaza, which marked its 10th year under an Israeli-enforced blockade last month, has struggled for years with power shortages due to limited fuel access and degraded infrastructure.

According to Israeli human rights NGO Gisha, Gaza’s sole power plant partially resumed operations in late June after being out of commission for two months, helping stave off an electricity crisis worsened by Israel’s recent decision to scale back its supply of electricity at the behest of the Palestinian Authority, adding that power was now available four to six hours a day in recent days, compared to three or so hours a day at the height of the shortages.

Gisha warned on Wednesday that Gaza was left “constantly teetering on the verge of the next electricity crisis, and severely limiting the improvement of infrastructure needed for economic growth in the Strip,” calling for a “comprehensive, sustainable, and long-term solution” to Gaza’s severe infrastructural deficits.

“The situation in Gaza has become increasingly precarious over recent months. No one is untouched by the energy crisis,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Robert Piper said during the meeting calling for funds.

“The coping capacities of Gaza’s families to deal with these types of shocks are seriously depleted as the cumulative impact of 10 years of isolation, division and insecurity take their toll.”

Furthermore, Piper said, “restrictions by the Palestinian Authority in the medical sector are hitting some of the most vulnerable adults and children in the Strip,” as Gaza hospitals have also reported serious shortages of medical supplies.

The PA has denied allegations that it had prevented patients in the besieged Gaza Strip from exiting the territory for urgent medical treatment, saying that Israel was accountable for the deterioration of the medical situation in Gaza by denying exit permits to thousands of patients.

The UN said in 2015 that the besieged Palestinian territory could become "uninhabitable" by 2020, as its nearly two million residents remain in dire poverty due to Israeli blockade that has crippled the economy, while continuing to experience the widespread destruction wrought by the Israeli offenses, and the slow-paced reconstruction efforts aimed at rebuilding homes for some 75,000 of Palestinians who remain displaced following the last Israeli assault.

Recovery efforts have also been hindered by a severe shortage of foreign funding.

Last year, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which has played a leading role in rebuilding destroyed homes in the beleaguered coastal enclave, said that of the $720 million required for its emergency shelter program, donor countries had pledged only $247 million.
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