A Palestinian woman feeds her son last month during a power cut in Khan Yunis..
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)
The United Nations has provided the Gaza Strip with $2.5 million in humanitarian aid to help with its water, electricity and fuel crisis.
The funds come as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatens to gradually cut funding to Gaza if Hamas does not allow Fatah to return to the Strip.
Some 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza have been hostage for the last four months to the power play between Fatah and Hamas as Abbas seek to regain control of the Strip 10 years after Hamas ousted his party in a bloody coup.
Particularly, they are suffering from an electricity crisis, surviving on only about four hours of power a day after Israel reduced its supply of electricity to Gaza at the request of the PA. The PA also imposed an onerous tax on the diesel fuel needed to run Gaza’s only power plant, as a result of which it has only operated for intermittent periods.
In July, the UN issued an urgent appeal for $25m. but, thus far, only 30% of that sum has been funded.
The “serious decline in living conditions in Gaza continues,” said UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper. “The humanitarian plight and the human rights of Gaza’s civilian population – over half of them children – appear to have disappeared from view” he added.
The UN funds will pay for fuel for the generators that are helping run 190 health, water and sanitation installations, as well as medical equipment and supplies, solar panels, cash assistance and agriculture supplies.
“The Gaza strip is into its fourth month of a serious energy crisis. Power supply to households and services has barely covered 25% of needs over the last six weeks.
Hospitals and other facilities are operating almost 24/7 on generators that are not designed for continuous use in this way. The last bulk shipment of essential drugs from the West Bank was in March 2017; an estimated 40% of essential drugs are at zero stock. There is a large backlog of patients requiring urgent medical referral to hospitals outside the Strip,” the UN said Thursday in a statement it issued on the funding.
The $2.5m. came from European countries that had donated to the Humanitarian Fund run by the Office for Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian territories.
Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey were among the donors.
On Tuesday, Miroslav Jenca, the UN’s assistant secretary-general, spoke about the Gaza crisis before the Security Council in New York.
“I call on Palestinian leaders to address the destructive consequences of the divisions.
I encourage them to reach [an] agreement that would allow the legitimate Palestinian authorities to take up their responsibilities in Gaza, as a step toward the formation of a united, democratically elected Palestinian government on the basis of the PLO principles,” Jenca said.
“Hamas must also ensure that calm is maintained by stopping militant buildup against Israel and by doing its utmost to sustain security at the border with Egypt.
Israel should step-up measures to lift the closures and facilitate development in Gaza as overall calm persists in the Strip, in line with Security Council Resolution 1860.”
He then urged donor countries to contribute to the Gaza appeal.