Gaza's Population at the Breaking Point

29-11-2013

Over the past six years, Gaza's 1.8 million residents – 70 % of whom are refugees and 80 % of whom depend on humanitarian assistance for their daily livelihood – have struggled with the land, air, and sea blockade imposed by Israel for security reasons. In the last year, the decline of Gaza's socio-economic situation has accelerated dizzyingly. Almost one in three people is unemployed, with youth and women the hardest hit. The blockade and Israel's restrictions on the movement of goods and persons to and from the territory mean that sustainable economic activity in Gaza is next to impossible. This bleak economic picture goes hand-in-hand with the fragile humanitarian situation, which has also deteriorated further in the last few months, as Egypt has closed most of the illegal tunnels for reasons of national security and limited crossings at Rafah. Fuel shortages have closed the only electric power plant in Gaza, adding to residents' sea of troubles. In the recent words of the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 'Gaza is quickly becoming uninhabitable.' To alleviate Gaza's economic woes and prevent a further radicalisation of the political landscape, humanitarian assistance must be delivered to the people in need. This assistance must be supplemented by greater efforts to improve governance in Gaza and to bring about a political solution to the siege of the enclave.

Over the past six years, Gaza's 1.8 million residents – 70 % of whom are refugees and 80 % of whom depend on humanitarian assistance for their daily livelihood – have struggled with the land, air, and sea blockade imposed by Israel for security reasons. In the last year, the decline of Gaza's socio-economic situation has accelerated dizzyingly. Almost one in three people is unemployed, with youth and women the hardest hit. The blockade and Israel's restrictions on the movement of goods and persons to and from the territory mean that sustainable economic activity in Gaza is next to impossible. This bleak economic picture goes hand-in-hand with the fragile humanitarian situation, which has also deteriorated further in the last few months, as Egypt has closed most of the illegal tunnels for reasons of national security and limited crossings at Rafah. Fuel shortages have closed the only electric power plant in Gaza, adding to residents' sea of troubles. In the recent words of the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 'Gaza is quickly becoming uninhabitable.' To alleviate Gaza's economic woes and prevent a further radicalisation of the political landscape, humanitarian assistance must be delivered to the people in need. This assistance must be supplemented by greater efforts to improve governance in Gaza and to bring about a political solution to the siege of the enclave.