Gaza conference: survival rations will not rebuild Gaza

Published: 1st March 2009

All crossings must be open to allow level of reconstruction needed

As donors are set to meet at a key conference hosted by Egypt in Sharm Al-Sheikh tomorrow to raise funds to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, international agency Oxfam International warned that unless key goods are allowed in and Israel ends its blockade reconstructing Gaza will not happen. The agency revealed that only a fraction of the range of goods needed are being allowed.  Oxfam stressed the importance of financial contributions at Sharm but warned that without pressure on Israel to let essential goods such as school supplies and building materials to enter these contributions would not lead to reconstruction in Gaza. The agency calculates that more than 80% of all goods currently allowed into Gaza are basic foods, such as fruit, dairy, flour, oil and sugar. Oxfam said that the tap has been turned off on essential goods needed for agriculture and rebuilding as well as clothing, shoes and supplies for education. “The people of Gaza have been restricted to survival rations for now over 20 months. Restrictions on food types, clothing and school books are keeping innocent children underfed, cold and uneducated. Hospitals, schools and thousands of homes need to be rebuilt. We cannot talk seriously about rebuilding Gaza without the opening of all crossings.,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs. Hobbs: “This Conference won’t serve its purpose if essential goods are still being blocked from getting in. What Gazans need today goes beyond basic humanitarian supplies.” Oxfam said that as a wide range of substantial goods needed to get through - such as agricultural materials, cement, glass and plastic pipes - opening crossings capable of handling all goods was vital. The international agency says that the Karni crossing, the most sophisticated and strategic entry point to the Strip, must be re-opened immediately. For the time being, the flow of goods and supplies into Gaza, a place with the same population as Barcelona, is currently restricted to one inadequate, remote and costly entry point.  

This Conference won’t serve its purpose if goods are still being blocked from getting in. What Gazans need goes beyond basic humanitarian supplies
Jeremy Hobbs
Executive Director of Oxfam International

Notes to editors

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  • Damage assessments of Gaza’s buildings published by the United Nations list 34,270 households that were partially or completely damaged.  3, 875 homes were destroyed and need complete reconstruction.  
  • 25,110 families need plastic sheeting and tarpaulins as temporary weatherproofing.  8,645 families need to be relocated temporarily with residential subsidies, tents or transitional shelters and need hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses, mats, kitchen sets and stoves while their houses are rebuilt 
  • For more than a year, Oxfam has been calling on Israel and other parties to fully re-open all the crossings into and out of Gaza to allow for the passage of humanitarian and commercial goods and for people.