UN Allocates $2.5 Million to Gaza as NGO Warns of Humanitarian Emergency

Palestinian in Gaza raise awareness of the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the besieged enclave as a result of the power crisis. (Photo: Mohammad Assad, MEMO)

The United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities (OCHA) released a statement on Thursday confirming that $2.5 million of the UN’s Humanitarian Fund was being donated to the besieged Gaza Strip in order to meet urgent needs in the territory, on the same day that a UK-based NGO warned of an escalating “humanitarian emergency” in the small enclave.

Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory Robert Piper said in the statement that the fund allocation would “bolster the UN’s emergency fuel operation which primarily supplies fuel to generators to maintain operations in around 190 critical health, water and sanitation installations.”

Piper emphasized that the funding would also provide “essential life-saving medical equipment and supplies” to the besieged enclave, while solar panels, cash assistance, and agricultural supplies would be allocated to residents in order to reduce food insecurity.

Piper underscored the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where residents have continued into their fourth month of a “serious energy crisis,” which has been reduced to barely covering 25 percent of needs in Palestinian households, and hospitals have resorted to relying on generators 24/7.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), a UK-based NGO, released a statement on Thursday, stating that the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported last month that 40 percent of essential medicine and 34 percent of medical disposables had less than a month’s supply left. “This included half of all cancer drugs,” MAP said.

“The serious decline in living conditions in Gaza continues” Piper said in the statement. “The humanitarian plight and the human rights of Gaza’s civilian population — over half of them children — appear to have disappeared from view.”

Palestinians in Gaza have continued to organize their lives around just a few hours of electricity per day.

The PA has also been the target of fierce condemnation for delaying medical referrals for patients in Gaza to receive life-saving treatment outside of the territory. The reports emerged soon after the had PA dramatically slashed its budget to Gaza’s medical sector, leaving residents with no other option but to seek treatment outside the territory, as Gaza’s stock of drugs quickly depleted.

MAP warned that the Gaza Strip had reached its “lowest ebb outside of periods of military attack” and that the situation should be considered a “humanitarian emergency.”

The group pointed out that Gaza’s water treatment and desalination plants can “only operate minimal services” owing to the electricity crisis, and that 73 percent of Gaza’s shoreline “is now dangerously polluted,” which has already led to the death of five-year-old Muhammad Ahmed Salim al-Sayes last month after he fell ill from the contamination after swimming.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights released a report on al-Sayes’ death, stating that doctors had confirmed at the time that the child was suffering from Ekiri syndrome, which can cause trauma to the brain, owing to the contamination on Gaza’s beaches.

Al-Sayes’ father had told Al Mezan that the doctors had produced a diagnostic report in order to submit an urgent medical referral for the child to be treated outside of Gaza. When the father put in a request for financial coverage from the PA, which is typically provided for urgent medical referrals in the Gaza Strip, the father was made to wait for a week. However, his request was never approved.

In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current trends were not altered. However, a new report released last month by the UN said that “life for the average Palestinian in Gaza is getting more and more wretched,” and that for the majority of Gaza’s residents, the territory may already be unlivable.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

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