Thousands face humanitarian crisis in Gaza- Oxfam


London : More than a million people are facing a humanitarian crisis unless aid is allowed into Gaza immediately, the major British charity Oxfam warned here Monday.

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In an appeal timed to coincide with meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Egypt, the aid agency said that the area’s economy and infrastructure were facing collapse unless the Hamas-controlled zone’s borders reopen.

Oxfam said 1.3 million people were facing suffering because of the “entrapment” of the zone, where the extremist group which was until recently in government across the Occupied Territories, seized control earlier this month. It said food supplies would run out in “days” with fuel and other necessities now “critically” low.

One sewage works which has been waiting three months for vital equipment is in danger of “bursting,” contaminating water supplies for 300,000 people, according to Oxfam partner organisation the “Coastal Municipalities Water Utility.” It added that with only 10 days’ supply of chlorine left people could soon be drinking untreated water.

Oxfam called for 100 trucks a day to be allowed in Gaza, five times the current permitted level, simply to maintain basic functions.

The charitys director, Barbara Stocking, said in a statement: “The international community is closing its eyes to its humanitarian obligations and allowing the suffering to intensify.”

“Aid is being drip-fed across the border. The entrapment of Gaza is completely unacceptable.”

“We urge the key players to resolve what has been a completely avoidable crisis.” She added that aid was being withheld as a “political weapon.” “This shames the international community.”

“Water equipment has been waiting at Gaza’s border for more than three months.

“These sanctions must cease immediately.”

Stocking said that unless Western aid is allocated equally across the Palestinian territories, partisan rivalry would be exacerbated.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to join Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the leaders of neighbouring Egypt and Jordan for a summit Monday.