“We Have a Grave Humanitarian Situation in Gaza”

Editorial note: In February, CNEWA?s regional director for Palestine and Israel, Sami El-Yousef.

Editorial note: In February, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, Sami El-Yousef, conducted a program review in Gaza. CNEWA’s partners from the aid organization of the German Catholic bishops, Misereor, accompanied Mr. El-Yousef for a portion of the visit, which focused on humanitarian activities implemented through the churches of Gaza. Below are excerpts from his report, which may be read in its entirety here.

It is never easy visiting Gaza in normal circumstances let alone after a brutal war. …

The residents who we spoke with were very angry with many issues: the two political factions, Fatah and Hamas, for doing nothing to ease their suffering and for the lack of progress to reconcile; at UNRWA [the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] for not doing enough to help reconstruct; and at the international community for not denouncing war for the people of Gaza; and at Israel for destroying life in Gaza. …

To hear people say that “Gaza’s situation as it stands today is worse than it was during the 51-day war in the summer” is quite a depressing statement. However, this was to be expected considering the current state of affairs:

  • Gaza continues to live under a severe blockade that has not improved since the end of the war in August 2014
  • The Rafah crossing with Egypt is nearly shut-down and only allowed to open for 2-3 days every two months in order to allow the transfer of severe medical cases
  • The cost of all food items and basic commodities are 3-4 times more expensive
  • No meaningful reconstruction efforts have begun and thus the economy is at near standstill with unemployment reaching 70 percent
  • Personal debt is at a record high causing serious social and economic problems
  • Electricity is supplied between 6-8 hours per day
  • Basic water and sewage infrastructure are still not back to pre-war levels (which was a disaster in the making before the war)
  • There is a lack of basic law and order as poverty gets more rooted and petty theft and crime is on the rise
  • Islamic fanaticism and the influence from the Islamic State are of great concern to Gazans, especially for the Christian community.

I must admit that the despair and frustration level seems to be very high and is cross-cutting within all areas of society. …

We have a grave humanitarian situation in Gaza. People are desperate to get their voices heard, calling for reconciliation, peace and justice — a declaration that there is true injustice imposed on Gaza’s population of 1.8 million people and that they deserve a better life.

Click here to help heal Gaza’s families.

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