22 April 2009 – Economic recovery in the Gaza Strip is at a standstill due to the ongoing blockade of materials and spare parts that would spur reconstruction following the Israel’s devastating three-week military offensive, the United Nations said today.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that the ban on importing construction supplies has also stalled major repairs on Gaza’s schools after the operation launched last December, which Israel said was aimed at ending Hamas rocket attacks.
The sweeping Israeli prohibitions and restrictions on the entry of cash has delayed work on almost all of the 200 projects planned under the $615 million UN Flash Appeal for the combat-battered area and its 1.4 million Palestinians residents, OCHA added.
Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned that number of cases of acute watery diarrhoea among children under the age of three have topped the alert threshold for the second time this year.
The agency added that test results released last month showed contamination in 14 per cent of water samples, and there are concerns that water could be further tainted by the residue of toxic munitions.
For its part, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) noted that unemployment in Gaza has risen from 36 per cent before the military operations to 43 per cent since unilateral ceasefires ended them on 28 January.
Poverty among the unemployed has also increased from 56 per cent to 66 per cent during the same time period, UNDP said.
Meanwhile, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry deplored the demolition of a home in East Jerusalem while on a visit to sites where Palestinian homes have either been destroyed or are being targeted for demolition.
Mr. Serry called on Israel to stop such actions and to abide by its commitments under the Road Map, stressing that they harm ordinary Palestinians, heighten tensions in the city and undermine efforts to build trust.