'Root causes' of Gaza crisis unresolved, says UN official

'Root causes' of Gaza crisis unresolved, says UN official
2 min read
09 July, 2015
The head of UNRWA says the underlying issues at the heart of the 2014 conflict have not been addressed, amid a humanitarian crisis in the strip and increasing regional instability.
Not a single house destroyed in the conflict has been rebuilt [Getty]
The root causes of the 2014 conflict in Gaza have not been addressed, despite the growing humanitarian crisis, said Pierre Krahenbuhl, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the start of last summer's 51-day conflict that killed 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 551 children, and injured thousands more, according to the UN. It also caused $1.7 billion in economic losses.

In a statement, Krahenbuhl expressed concern that the "despair, destitution and denial of dignity" caused by the 2014 war and the ongoing blockade remain "a fact of life for ordinary people in Gaza", and add to the growing humanitarian burden they have to face.
     The physical and psychological scars are everywhere to be seen in the Gaza Strip.
- Pierre Krahenbuhl, Head of UNRWA

"The physical and psychological scars are everywhere to be seen in the Gaza Strip. Countless children live with the traumas endured during the war and over a thousand live with what will be life-long disabilities," he said.

Gaza has some of the highest unemployment in the world, with 60 percent of young people out of work. A total of 80 percent of the population rely on humanitarian aid, mainly food assistance, while electricity and water supplies are unreliable.

In addition, estimates suggest the maternal mortality rates have nearly doubled in the past year, reports the UN.

Due to the widespread structural damage caused by the Israeli bombardment last summer, 100,000 people remain internally displaced and are living in temporary accommodation, while 120,000 have not be reconnected to the main water supply.

Since the ceasefire, 315-days ago, "not a single totally destroyed house, of which there are over 12,000, has been rebuilt," said Krahenbuhl.

The UN official called for political action, "starting with lifting of the blockade, ensuring rights and security for all, allowing increased exports from Gaza to stimulate economic recovery and freedom of movement for civilians".

He also argued that steps taken in recent weeks to alleviate suffering in the strip "fall far short of what is needed to bring about fundamental change in the lives of the population".

UNRWA's first relief packages to help families rebuild their homes are due to arrive this week.

"In an increasingly unstable Middle East, neglecting the needs and rights of the people of Gaza is a risk the world should not be taking," he said.