|Ahead of Israel’s Gaza withdrawal, UNICEF rushes in supplies to isolated areas
29 July 2005 – With less than a month remaining before Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has completed final deliveries of aid supplies to some of the most isolated enclaves in the area.
“Because of their close proximity to the soon-to-be-evacuated settlements, many enclaves in Gaza are being sealed off, making humanitarian aid deliveries virtually impossible for the next several weeks,” UNICEF said in a news release. “This is why special attention has been devoted to these areas, some of which are currently accessible only by a single gate for a few hours a day.”
Last week UNICEF was able to complete a final aid delivery to the Al Sayafa enclave, consisting of recreational, educational and water and sanitation supplies, along with one generator.
Children make up about half of the Gaza Strip’s population of 1.2 million, living in one of the most densely populated places on earth - and one of the most tense and isolated. They have few safe play spaces and are frequently exposed to the line of fire, at school or at home, UNICEF said.
With few playgrounds, many children wander perilously close to military positions or settlements, where unexploded ordnance (UXO) is a constant threat. First-time visitors to the Gaza Strip are often taken aback by how many children they see with UXO injuries, the agency noted.
Poor nutrition is also a widespread problem in the area. Three quarters of the population of Gaza lives under the poverty line; breakfast often means a single cup of tea. The lack of nutritious food results in stunted growth for one in 10 children.
UNICEF is supporting the creation of 15 alternative play areas for some 50,000 children living near sensitive areas. Daily activities will be provided, including instructional plays on how to avoid UXO. Recent aid shipments to Gaza include school-in-a-box kits of learning supplies, remedial education materials and safe water kits to help ensure a supply of drinkable water.