Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gaza poverty level sees dramatic increase within a year

The International Committee of the Red Cross issued a statement about conditions in the Gaza strip yesterday. The Red Cross says that there has been a "dramatic increase in poverty" in the Gaza strip since the collapse of the Gaza economy last year. Conditions were only worsened by the Israeli offensive back in January.

The Red Cross says that 70 percent of Gaza Palestinians are in poverty, which is especially troubling because half of the population is children. The Red Cross also warns that the water and sanitation system in the area could collapse soon.

From Reuters, writer Stephanie Nebehay gives us more details.

Stringent import restrictions imposed by Israel are crippling reconstruction efforts by donors who have pledged $4.5 billion, it said. Basic medicines are in short supply and the water and sanitation system is on the brink of collapse.

The humanitarian agency called on Israeli authorities to lift the restrictions and allow spare parts, water pipes and building materials into the Hamas-ruled coastal territory devastated by the Dec. 27-Jan. 18 offensive.

"Gaza neighbourhoods particularly hard hit by the Israeli strikes will continue to look like the epicentre of a massive earthquake unless vast quantities of cement, steel and other building materials are allowed into the territory for reconstruction," the ICRC said in a report.

Israeli forces bombed and then invaded Gaza to root out militants firing rockets into southern Israel. According to a Palestinian rights group, 1,417 people including 926 civilians were killed, along with 10 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians.

Many Gazans are "sliding ever deeper into despair", with thousands whose homes and belongings were destroyed still lacking adequate shelter, the Geneva-based ICRC said.

Hospitals are run down, with much of their equipment unreliable and in need of repair after daily power cuts.

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