Humanitarian crisis in Gaza dire as unemployment rises warns UN agency

10 February 2011The United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees is urging immediate intervention to tackle the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, where the unemployment rate rose to 45 per cent at the beginning of this year. “We are monitoring the situation in the region, in the hope that the world is looking to develop new strategies to end the humanitarian crisis,” Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told reporters in Gaza yesterday.In addition to the rising unemployment rate, per capita monthly earnings shrunk by 9.5 per cent between mid-2009 and the end of last year, Mr. Gunness noted.He warned that the humanitarian crisis in the enclave, which has been under an Israeli blockade since June 2007, would worsen without immediate international intervention.The region has become a “real test” for the international community, Mr. Gunness pointed out, urged world leaders not to abandon the 1.5 million Palestinian residents living in Gaza.In June 2010, Israel started allowing in more civilian goods into Gaza while still restricting access to concrete, iron and other materials that the UN has said are needed to repair the devastating damage caused by the 2008-2009 offensive Israel said it launched to halt rocket and other attacks against it.Last month, B. Lynn Pascoe, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council that a fundamental goal of the UN continues to be the re-vitalization of Gaza’s economy and seeking the end of the Israeli closure policy. He noted that import and export levels have improved from the period before Israel’s June 2010 policy adjustment, but are still significantly below pre-2007 levels.

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