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Source: World Food Programme (WFP)
19 July 2007

Gaza update: living in limbo

Gaza, 19 July 2007 -
Gaza may be calm at the moment, but months of insecurity have taken their toll on its population and economy. Kirstie Campbell reports.

Gaza's streets are quiet. The infighting of past months has now subsided, but life is far from normal. Food security, always a fragile notion in this dry strip of land remains ever precarious.

Garbage lines the sidewalks and old women sit in the streets.

We are not dying, yet we are not living trying to sell anything they can to bring in meager shekels to feed their families.

The markets are full of food imported from Israel, but with inflated prices few people have the pleasure of tasting the luxuries as they struggle to meet their most basic needs.

Imports frozen

Since mid-June, little more than food and medicine has entered the Gaza Strip. Imports of all other daily items that Gazans rely on have been frozen and all exports have stopped.

Many farmers are now unable to tend their fields as seeds and fertilisers are running short, and suspension of exports has led to plummeting profits. The price of animal feed has also skyrocketed in recent weeks, leading numerous herdsmen to sell their animals for meat to earn some money.

Furthermore, with no imports of raw materials or exports of locally manufactured goods, Gaza's industries are suffocating. Building projects are also suspended leaving swaths of unemployed workers.

Frustration and dependency

Gaza's economy is grinding to a halt. Lurking behind closed doors are thousands of frustrated men, desperate mothers and anxious children surviving on food assistance from WFP and UNRWA .

Dependency of the population on assistance from WFP and UNRWA is rising daily as people's means to earn a normal income slowly fade away. Many people are also reducing their daily food intake to cover other essential needs for heath or education.

"We are not dying, yet we are not living" one women tells me. "We are existing in a state of limbo where everything is uncertain. I feel so powerless and scared"

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