United Nations appeals to nearly 1million needy in Gaza Strip
Palestinian refugees in desperate need of food, shelter
The United Nations says that almost a million people are expected to be in need in the Gaza Strip by 2014. About 813,000 Palestinian refugees currently receive food aid from the United Nations Relief. However, the agency wishes to remind others that there is an expected 10-20 percent uptick in demand.
A ban on building materials had been imposed by Israel after a one-and-a-half mile tunnel which it said militants planned to use for attacks inside the Jewish state. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the estimated 700 tons of cement used to construct the tunnel could have built housing.
Egypt's closure in recent months of smuggling tunnels under its border into the enclave which has deprived thousands of people of jobs and halted commerce, Turner says. The chief reason cited for the requests for increased aid, the tunnels had previously provided a commercial lifeline for the Gaza Strip, run by Islamist Hamas, a Palestinian faction that is hostile to Israel.
The tunnels have also served in a non-humanitarian manner as well, used by militant groups to smuggle in weapons and funds. Coupled with the projected increase in people needing aid, UNRWA would require more donations from countries.
"Only for food next year, we are appealing for $95 million but that is all our entire expected income, so we need to do a lot of advocacy with the donors," Turner said.
At least 80 percent of the enclave's 1.8 million people are already classified as aid-dependent; unemployment is at a staggering 30 percent, with more than one in four remaining idle.
Israel's partial lifting last week of a ban on the import of construction materials for projects run by his organization had allowed the resumption of work at five of 20 projects currently under way, Turner said.
A ban on building materials had been imposed by Israel after a one-and-a-half mile tunnel which it said militants planned to use for attacks inside the Jewish state. Hamas' armed wing claimed responsibility for digging the tunnel, and said it was intended to facilitate an attack against Israel.
While Turner said that the resumed supply of building materials would let thousands of laborers to get back to work was a "good start," he noted that 67 projects could only get under way after Israel allowed more building materials into Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon blamed the Hamas government for the halt of building materials to Gaza. Yaalon said the estimated 700 tons of cement used to construct the tunnel could have built housing.
"They could have used the cement to build houses, or schools . anybody who chooses to build an attack tunnel . apparently cannot be trusted to receive cement . It's a matter of choice . let those (who complain) first of all turn to (Hamas Prime Minister) Ismail Haniyeh, not to me," Yaalon said.
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