KHAN YOUNIS — Director of UNRWA Operations, Gaza, John Ging, has warned against the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza due to the shortage of basic food commodities, especially flour, as a result of the closure of Karni crossing by the Israeli Authorities.
In a press conference held on 9 March at UNRWA’s Relief and Social Services Distribution Center in Khan Younis camp, south of Gaza, Mr. Ging underlined the economic situation in Gaza caused by a shortage of basic commodities.
Mr. Ging said, “Yesterday I visited the Palestinian Flourmill Company, a major flour producer in Qarara, northern Khan Younis, and found it empty due to the lack of wheat imported through Karni, the sole commercial crossing from Gaza to the outside world.”
He stated that Israel should open crossings, as more closures would cause more suffering for Gazans. He also mentioned that he was informed that some of the Agency’s containers were allowed entry through Karni on Thursday 09 February, which would go some way towards alleviating the suffering.
In reply to a question on the impact of the political situation in oPt on the operations of UNRWA, Mr. Ging stated that the Agency would not be affected because, as a humanitarian organization, it mainly exists to provide assistance for the needy Palestine refugees. The aim of this visit, he said, was to closely assess and follow-up the humanitarian needs of the Palestine refugees and urged the international community to continue providing assistance for the Palestinian people.
“The conditions of refugees in Khan Younis are extremely difficult. Humanitarian assistance is needed to provide a decent life for refugees.” He also stressed that the “UNRWA exists for a humanitarian purpose and will continue to provide assistance to Palestine refugees.”
“We will work together for a better future to ensure decent life for all,” he said, noting that he met with Dr Osama Al-Farra, Governor of Khan Younis, who briefed him on the needs of the governorate.
On visiting the new sites of the rehousing project and Khan Younis training center, which are located in areas evacuated by the Israeli army in Khan Younis, Mr. Ging said that a completely equipped vocational training center would be established soon on an area of 60 dunums provided by the Palestinian Authority for the 18-classroom project set to serve more than 1700 students living in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Ging emphasised that “All maps and procedural issues related to the new projects are underway and implementation will be initiated soon.” He stated that the first phase would be completed by the start of the new academic year, at a cost of US$ 5.5 million in order to begin the second phase of adding new rooms and equipment as necessary.
Mr. Ging added that 1126 housing units will be constructed on an area of 250 donums close to the vocational center at a cost of US$ 25 million. Funds necessary for the project implementation are available. He added that a donor state will be visiting the site soon. Priority will be given to refugees whose houses were destroyed by the Israeli forces and will be distributed amongst needy refugee families, he confirmed.
During his visit to the houses of Special Hardship Case families in the camp, Mr. Ging was briefed on their suffering, the difficult living conditions they encounter and the need to need to construct a new shelter. He promised that UNRWA would do everything possible to improve the refugees’ living conditions on the health, education and social levels.
At the outset of his visit to Kan Younis, Mr. Ging met with Dr Osama Al Fara, the Governor of Khan Younis, at the latter’s office where he listened to an explanation of the citizens’ needs in light of the difficult economic conditions. The meeting was attended by the heads of municipalities.
Dr Al Farra commended the UNRWA’s efforts to support Palestinian refugees who are still suffering from the Israeli occupation which has destroyed thousands of houses and made their inhabitants homeless prior to the withdrawal from Gaza.