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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Holy Land: Gaza "on verge of humanitarian catastrophe"
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¬†The United Nations organisations active in Gaza, which support more than 1.4million Palestinians, has warned that the region, controlled by the PNA (Palestinian National Authority), is on the verge of a "humanitarian disaster" due to a lack of money and food. The news was reported yesterday morning by the Israeli 'Haaretz' news service, quoting the serious concerns of David Shearer, head of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which assists Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip. In his UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) report, Shearer told Israeli Foreign ministry officials that if there is no significant change in the situation, Gaza will face a humanitarian crisis "as bad as the one in Kosovo." The UN is particularly concerned that the closure of the Karni crossing, between Gaza and Egypt, is preventing the entry of food, goods and medicine for the Palestinian people. Concerns are increasingly more serious since recent World Bank statistics indicated that within a few years, 75% of Palestinians will be below the poverty line. The current rate is 56% of the around 1.4m Palestinians, compared to 22% in 2000, when the new 'Intifada' began. These problems were being addressed yesterday by the new PNA government, headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniye and dominated by the Hamas movement (Islamic Resistance Movement), in a meeting in Gaza. The main challenge faced in this phase by the Palestinian government is how to obtain the necessary funds to pay the salaries of 140,000 public officials, 70,000 of which members of the security forces. Until last January, ahead of the Hamas election victory over the Al Fatah, the funds arrived from abroad (mainly the European Union, Israel, United States and Canada). The Hamas victory and the movement's refusal to recognise Israel, caused the donors ≠ particularly Washington and Tel Aviv ≠ to suspend the monthly financing, though with strong concerns over the possible humanitarian consequences for tens of thousands of families. According to an (anonymous) Israeli security official interviewed by 'Haaretz', Tel Aviv "is aware of the difficulties, and an effort is being made to find solutions without violating the decision not to be in contact with the Hamas government". Also the other governments are trying to overcome the same problem, nevertheless since March the Palestinian funding has been frozen with the withholding by Israel of a monthly $50-million, a similar sum from the US and another $45-million normally allocated by the EU and Canada. Based on unofficial comments made by the official to the Israeli newspaper: "the possibility of transferring funds via the office of the [Palestinian] presidency to the regional rulers who are directly subject to President Abu Mazen (Mahmus Abas) is being examined". This would therefore mean stepping over the Hamas and reinforcing relations between the foreign governments and Al Fatah. Source: Missionary News Service
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