Saturday, June 20, 2009

Aid Agencies Slam Gaza Blockade

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jun 20 (IPS) - Forty international aid agencies and NGOs have released a joint statement condemning Israel's blockade of Gaza, to mark the second anniversary of the coastal territory being hermetically sealed off from the outside world.

"We, United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organisations, express deepening concern over Israel's continued blockade of the Gaza Strip which has now been in force for two years.

"These indiscriminate sanctions are affecting the entire 1.5 million population of Gaza, and ordinary women, children and the elderly are the first victims," read the statement, to mark the anniversary Wednesday.....

According to a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report released Jun. 15, the number of truckloads of humanitarian goods entering Gaza on a monthly basis now is a quarter of the number that entered prior to Israel's blockade.

In May, 82 drug items in Gaza were at zero level, up from 65 in April. At the same time, 95 disposable items had reached zero level, up slightly from 90 in the previous month.

During May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) coordinated the entry of one shipment of medical drugs or disposables, while another four shipments of materials were put on hold by the Israeli authorities. The latter shipments contain x-ray materials, as well as medical and IT equipment.

Petrol, apart from small quantities for UNRWA, and to operate emergency generators at wastewater treatment plants and hospitals, has been banned since November last year. Gaza is instead relying on deep underground smuggling tunnels from Egypt for both petrol and other essentials."

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