17 June 2009
A group of 38 United Nations and non-governmental organizations issued a denunciation of Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The groups, which include UNRWA, the United Nations Development Fund for Women and Oxfam International, the amount of goods now allowed into Gaza is still one-quarter of what it was before the imposition of the blockade in 2007.
Israel locked down Gaza’s borders following the June 2007 Hamas takeover, trapping 1.5 million Palestinians inside and creating scarcities of numerous items, including food, medicine, and fuel. Currently, construction materials, needed to rebuild the Strip from last winter’s war, are completely barred.
The following is the full text of the humanitarian agencies’ statement:
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.
The amount of goods allowed into Gaza under the blockade is one quarter of the pre- blockade flow. Eight out of every ten truckloads contains food but even that is restricted to a mere 18 food items. Seedlings and calves are not allowed so Gaza’s farmers cannot make up the nutritional shortfall. Even clothes and shoes, toys and school books are routinely prohibited.
Furthermore the suffocation of Gaza’s economy has led to unprecedented unemployment and poverty rates and almost total aid dependency. While Gazans are being kept alive through humanitarian aid, ordinary civilians have lost all quality of life as they fight to survive.
The consequences of Israel’s recent military operation remain widespread as early recovery materials have been prevented from entering Gaza. Thousands of people are living with holes in their walls, broken windows and no running water.
We call for free and uninhibited access for all humanitarian assistance in accordance with the international agreements and in accordance with universally recognized international human rights and humanitarian law standards. We also call for a return to normalized trade to enable the poverty and unemployment rates to decrease.
The blockade of the Gaza Strip is creating an atmosphere of deprivation in Gaza that can only deepen the sense of hopelessness and despair among people. The people of Gaza need to be shown an alternative of hope and dignity. Allowing human development and prosperity to take hold is an essential first step towards the establishment of lasting peace.
Action Against Hunger
American Friends of UNRWA
American Near East Refugee Aid
Asamblea de Cooperacion Por la Paz
CARE International West Bank and Gaza.
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions
Defense for Children International
Enfants du Monde-Droits de l’Homme
International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy – Canada
Japan International Volunteer Centre
Medecins du Monde France
Medecins du Monde Spain
Medecins du Monde Switzerland
Medical Aid for Palestinians
Movement for Peace
Mujeres por la Paz y Acción Solidaria de Palestina
Norwegian People’s Aid
Norwegian Refugee Council
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Peace and Solidarity Haydée Santamaría, Cultural Asociation
Spanish Committee of UNHCR
Spanish Committee of UNRWA
Swedish Organization for Individual Relief
Terre des Hommes Italy
United Nations Development Fund for Women
United Nations Relief and Works Agency
War Child Holland
World Vision International