The UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) called for an immediate stop to the continuing siege that has caused a near-collapse of economic activities in Gaza and a poverty rate of 56 percent.
“This unfair blockade in which two million Palestinians are kept inside Gaza should be lifted immediately. They should be allowed to move freely, do business, trade with the outside world and reconnect with their families outside of the Strip,” Mahmoud Elkhafif, coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People of UNCTAD, said. “The situation is going to get worse if the blockade continues.”
“Unless Palestinians in the Strip get access to the outside world, it is difficult to see anything but underdevelopment being the fate of the Gaza Palestinian society,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at UNCTAD. “It is really shocking that in the 21st century, two million people can be left in that kind of condition.”
The isolation of the Strip has not prevented the coronavirus pandemic from reaching Gaza, worsening an already critical situation. As of Monday, 14,768 people had contracted COVID-19, with 65 deaths. Health authorities in Gaza warned of an imminent catastrophe if Israel continued to block humanitarian access as well as the entry of necessary health equipment and medical supplies. Hospitals and healthcare staff are in need of protective clothing, ventilators and beds.
“The health crisis is exposing the underlying conditions that have been worsening over a decade,” said Kozul-Wright.