Saturday, December 13, 2008

Joy is in short supply for Eid

Gaza's blockade means that this is the hardest holiday its people can remember.

By Donald Macintyre
Saturday, 13 December 2008

"....."Despite there being no salaries, the money we don't have to give to our children, the high price of Egyptian lamb, and the switching off of power, we will celebrate by the light of an Egyptian candle," read one. It summed up the daily power cuts, the utter impossibility for most families this year of affording the traditional Eid sheep and the fact that smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt have turned into a lifeline for the 1.5 million inhabitants of blockaded, Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The sardonic text message marking the most miserable Eid in Gaza anyone can remember came up on the mobile belonging to Adel Razeq. He runs Gaza's National Agency for Family Care and has been struggling with meagre resources to set up a "food bank" intended to distribute meals – in some cases repackaged leftovers from restaurants, wedding parties and even funerals – to the growing legion of undernourished in Gaza, where more than 50 per cent of families have for the first time been classified as living below the "deep poverty" line of £315 per month for two adults and six children.

Mr Razeq's team has identified severe need in 10 times the 400 to 500 families he is already helping and he believes that a much higher underlying demand is hidden by the pride of unemployed fathers. "We even get kids coming in here when the parents won't," he explains. "They will say 'I love my dad but he can't give us what we need'."......"

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