[News] Gaza again on brink of disaster
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 28 12:08:52 EDT 2009
Gaza again on brink of disaster, says Scots aid chief
Tuesday April 28, 2009 15:55
by Pal telegraph
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TENS of thousands of people struggling to rebuild
their lives in the Gaza Strip after Israel's
22-day military offensive this year will face a
second humanitarian disaster within weeks,
because aid is not getting through, the Scot
heading the British Red Cross international relief effort has warned.
Moira Reddick, the charity's head of disaster
management, said blockages at the Israeli border
meant civilians were facing spending the summer
with its soaring temperatures sheltering under
rotting plastic and tents with little or no
sanitation, increasing the threat of disease and risk of infection.
Ms Reddick, who visited Gaza, last month, said:
"We will be looking at a new humanitarian crisis.
Right now we have assistance which we are trying
to get in. The situation is that aid is not
getting through. It is piling up on the other side of the border.
"As summer comes on, the risk to health
increases. It is difficult enough in winter, but
it will be impossible in the heat and the risk to health increases."
The 22 days of hostilities, which ended on 18
January, left at least 1,300 Palestinian
civilians dead and 5,500 injured. Thirteen
Israelis were killed, three of them civilians.
Ms Reddick, originally from Ayr, said there were
also major problems with lack of reconstruction
work, because building materials such as steel,
as well as fuel, were being prevented from
entering the territory. Israel has said Hamas
could use materials like concrete for military purposes.
Ms Reddick, who deals with an annual budget of
tens of millions of pounds, added: "The situation
in Gaza has a political cause and therefore needs
a political solution. This needs to happen to
make it easier to move goods across the border."
Last month, the UK government pledged £30 million
for reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. About £4
billion has been promised by foreign donors.
Sir Nick Young, chief executive of the British
Red Cross, said: "This is not a job for aid
agencies alone. Humanitarian action is vital, but
insufficient to resolve the crisis.
"Ordinary Gazans have struggled under 18 months
of restrictions, making daily life almost
impossible - access to healthcare, petrol,
electricity, secure food supplies - things we take for granted.
"The task of reconstruction is daunting. However,
the truth is that efforts to rebuild Gaza can
only succeed if accompanied by credible political steps to resolve the crisis."
Last week, a spokesman for the White House in the
United States announced that the leaders of
Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians have been
invited for talks in Washington in a new push for
peace. The talks are likely to take place by early June.
Ahmed Youssef, a senior adviser to Ismail Haniye,
the Hamas prime minister, described as "accurate"
Ms Reddick's assessment that Gaza is on the verge
of humanitarian disaster because of Israeli strictures.
"Sometimes the Israelis try to deceive the world
community by letting some lorries cross, but
their policy is to keep us on the brink of
collapse all of the time," said Mr Youssef.
However, Yariv Ovadia, a spokesman for the
Israeli foreign ministry, denied this, saying:
"We closely monitor the humanitarian situation in
Gaza and we don't see the situation getting close to a crisis."
About 120 lorry loads of humanitarian supplies
cross into Gaza on a daily basis, according to the defense ministry.
Mr Ovadia said the restrictions "are mostly on
equipment that is not used for humanitarian aid".
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