• February 16, 2008

Holmes shocked at deteriorating conditions in Gaza

Holmes shocked at deteriorating conditions in Gaza

John Holmes, the UN secretary general”s representative, has said that he was shocked at the deteriorating humanitarian condition in the Gaza Strip, describing it as “grim”.

Holmes told a press conference in Gaza that the rate of poverty and unemployment had reached horrific percentages, and that thousands of people were losing their sustenance.

The closed Gaza crossings were worsening the conditions in the Strip, he said, demanding an immediate opening of the crossings to allow freedom of movement for the inhabitants of Gaza and to allow their export-import traffic.

Holmes, who was accompanied by an UNRWA delegation, toured the industrial area near Mintar (Karni) crossing, sewage treatment stations in Beit Lahia, and the Shifa hospital. He then held a meeting with the UNRWA commissioner general, Karin Abu Zaid, who explained in detail the suffering of the Palestinian refugees and UNRWA”s efforts to alleviate the Palestinian people”s suffering.

The UN official pointed out that the shortage in construction material meant that no construction was possible, adding that such a situation along with shortages in basic materials greatly affected the Palestinian economy.

He noted that goods entering Gaza were only 10% of the usual traffic in January last year while the rate of poverty and unemployment had reached 80%. He underlined that 80% of the Gaza population were basically dependent on UN aid.

Holmes blamed the grim situation in Gaza on the closure of crossings that led to scarcity in foodstuffs. He pointed to the insufficiency of potable water and warned that sewage problems were threatening a health disaster.

Electricity in Gaza was greatly affected by the reduction in fuel supplies and Gaza hospitals were badly affected and many patients should be moved abroad for treatment, the UN official underscored.

He stressed that he would table the situation in Gaza with officials in the PA in Ramallah and in Israel.