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Source:
19 February 2008
UNOG
The United Nations
Office at Geneva





REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
19 February 2008

Elena Ponomareva-Piquier, Chief of the Press and External Relations Section of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing which was also attended by Spokespersons for the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Economic Commission for Europe.

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Gaza Strip

Christiane Berthiaume of the World Food Programme said the shortage of fuel and electricity combined with the virtual absence of exports and very little imports was seriously threatening the situation of food security for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza strip. The key economic sectors in Gaza, agriculture and fishing, were no longer functioning, and many found themselves unemployed because of this. WFP believed it was urgent that the border re-opened and called for the entry of basic commodities and the exit of exports to be allowed. WFP was working with other partners to ensure a complete opening of the border for humanitarian aid and the return of trade in Gaza. Families found themselves spending 62 per cent of their income to buy food, in comparison to 38 per cent in June. Fifty-two per cent of the population had seen their income diminish rapidly since June. Nearly 302,000 persons out of 460,000 non-refugee Palestinians suffered from food insecurity and 55,000 others could become similarly vulnerable unless the situation improved. WFP had increased the number of people it was helping with food aid to 302,000 since January, up from 252,000. Thanks to UNRWA and WFP, 70 per cent of the inhabitants of Gaza received food aid, but the two agencies were not able to fulfill all their food needs, only between 60 and 65 per cent. Availability of electricity and fuel was sporadic. Sufa was the only open border point between Israel and Gaza and it was not equipped to handle the flow of trucks carrying humanitarian aid and other stuff. Last week, 50 trucks passed through Sufa daily, including 15 carrying WFP humanitarian aid. Before June 2007, between 200 to 300 trucks passed daily through the Karni check point.

Teresa Buerkle of the Food and Agriculture Organization said FAO would be issuing a press release tomorrow on its emergency projects in Gaza. FAO currently had 14 projects running in the West Bank and Gaza, but the greatest needs were in Gaza where the agriculture and fishery sectors had been badly hit by the lack of input, constraints on farm exports and restrictions on fishing areas.
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