Monday, September 18, 2006

Gaza Watch #17: Gaza faces major food problems

UN News
15 September 2006

Palestinians face major difficulties in Gaza, including
shortages of food and a crippled fishing industry because
of the continued conflict with Israel, the United Nations
food agency warned today, as it distributes aid to almost
a quarter of a million of those most in need.

"Gaza's food security remains an issue of serious concern,
the World Food Programme (WFP) says. Naval restrictions
continue to block all boats from fishing off-shore,
crippling the fishing industry," UN spokesman Marie Okabe
told reporters in New York.

"Furthermore, Gaza's agricultural markets continue to
suffer from access restrictions. WFP is distributing food
to 220,000 of the most vulnerable people among Gaza's
non-refugee population."

Also on the humanitarian front, the UN Children's Fund
(UNICEF) has delivered five water tankers to
municipalities in Gaza with damaged water networks, and
also stepped up support for vaccination services in the
northern West Bank, she added.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday that
following an agreement between Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas on forming a unity Government, the
diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East, which includes the
UN, will meet next week to discuss these developments and
possible ways to provide humanitarian assistance to the
occupied territory.

International donors have baulked at funding the Hamas-led
Palestinian Government because it has yet to renounce
violence and the continuing conflict with Israel has led
to what Mr. Annan described as a "very desperate and
serious situation" in the occupied territory.

The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East - comprising the
UN, United States, European Union (EU) and the Russian
Federation - are sponsoring the Road Map plan for a
two-State solution, with Israel and Palestine living side
by side in peace, however Mr. Annan has lamented its lack
of progress.

Over the past few months there have been several
high-level UN meetings on the worsening plight of the
Palestinians in the occupied territory and last week a UN
conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian
People adopted a plan of action aimed at addressing their

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