Posted by: noticeable | July 4, 2009

ICRC Report: Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair (29 June 2009)

Released on 29 June 2009, a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross finds that, following the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, over a million Gazans are experiencing unspeakable living conditions.  The major findings which I handpicked are outlined below.  These are very serious findings and require immediate on-the-ground action.

Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair

  • Israel’s military operation left thousands of homes partly or totally destroyed.
  • Gaza neighbourhoods particularly hard hit by Israel will continue to look like the epicentre of a massive earthquake unless vast quantities of cement, steel and other building materials are allowed into the territory for reconstruction. Until that happens, thousands of families who lost everything will be forced to live in cramped conditions with relatives. Others will continue to live in tents, as they have nowhere else to go.
  • Gaza’s health-care system cannot provide the treatment that many patients suffering from serious illness require. A number of them are not allowed to leave the Strip in time to seek health care elsewhere.
  • Seriously ill patients should be given prompt and safe passage out of the Gaza Strip in order to access the specialized medical care they cannot get inside the territory. Essential medical items such as drugs, disposables and spare parts must be allowed into the Gaza Strip without delay and in sufficient quantities to ensure essential health services for the population.
  • This increase in poverty has taken a heavy toll on the population’s diet. Many families have been forced to cut household expenses to survival levels. Generally, people are getting the calories they need, but only a few can afford a healthy and balanced diet. Poor families often substitute cheaper alternatives such as cereals, sugar and oil for fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. For tens of thousands of children, this has resulted in deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D. The likely consequences include stunted growth of bones and teeth, difficulty in fighting off infections, fatigue and a reduced capacity to learn.
  • Gaza’s alarming poverty is directly linked to the tight closure imposed on the territory. Local industry and other businesses have to be allowed to rebuild, to import essential inputs and to export their products. But even that would take time. The crisis has become so severe and entrenched that even if all crossings were to open tomorrow it would take years for the economy to recover.
  • During the latest military operation, the Israeli army uprooted thousands of citrus, olive and palm groves, including those far inside the Gaza Strip. The army also destroyed irrigation systems, wells and greenhouses.
  • People in Gaza are trapped. Because Israel has shut the crossing points, Gazans have scant opportunity for contact with relatives abroad or for further education or professional training.

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