UN Appeal on Gaza: Access for aid just as crucial as funding

Israel denies Gaza more than 50 percent of minimum daily needs; Provision of pasta or dates also denied entry arbitrarily, Oxfam charges

As the UN is launching an appeal for funding to Gaza in Geneva today, aid agency Oxfam International insists that access of goods to the Strip is equally important as fundraising. Without further delay, Israel must allow for all existing crossings to function at maximum capacity, Oxfam said.

Oxfam estimates that Israel is denying Gaza more than 50 percent of its normal minimum daily requirements, when the needs are even greater today after 3 weeks of heavy bombardments and conflict with Palestinian armed groups in the Strip.*

Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International said: “The Israeli authorities are drip feeding 1.5 million people when vital supplies are urgently needed. Humanitarian access to Gaza must be improved and guaranteed. Using Kerem Shalom crossing, too far to the south of where most of the needs are, is inadequate, inefficient and wasteful of aid resources. Nothing less than a 24hours/7days a week opening of all crossings is what’s needed today.

Hobbs: “On top of blocking key access points, Israeli authorities have been denying entry for items such as dates or provisions of macaroni. This is unacceptable.”

Along with the daily needs and humanitarian assistance, Gaza needs to bring in goods for reconstruction. There is a tremendous shortage of building materials and spare parts for repair of houses, water, sewage and electrical facilities. For example, Gaza is in dire need of cement, since the cement-processing factories were destroyed by the Israeli air attacks.

Oxfam also said that money alone will not solve the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Political will and long term investment by the international community to tackle the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are also urgently needed.

“It’s not enough for donor countries to reach out for their check books. They must also press Israel to open up the border crossings and make sure their aid money is being used effectively. The people of Gaza cannot indefinitely continue to be dependent on external aid," Jeremy Hobbs concluded.

Notes to editors

* This figure is based on the number of trucks for humanitarian purposes coming into Gaza before the start of the Israeli blockade in June 2007 when 1320 trucks a week were allowed in.

Israel told the humanitarian community last week it will only admit a maximum of 90 trucks with humanitarian goods a day (not on Friday afternoons and Saturdays) to pass through Kerem Shalom, the only crossing which is now open to trucks.

The Karni crossing to the north has the capacity to import 750 truckloads a day. That crossing has been closed to trucks since June 15, 2007.

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