21 August 2007 – A senior United Nations official in the Middle East today voiced concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation inside the Gaza Strip, where the closure of border crossings and other restrictions have cut exports and forced factories to shut, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians without jobs or income.
Kevin Kennedy, the Deputy UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement that while the basic humanitarian needs of Gaza’s estimated population of 1.4 million people are largely being met, the conditions remain very difficult.
UN officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that the closure of border crossings since intra-Palestinian violence flared in May and June and Hamas took control of the territory is threatening Gaza’s economic sustainability.
Factories in import-dependent industries have had to close because of a lack of basic materials, and other businesses are also suffering because they are unable to export their products.
Mr. Kennedy said “tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs and income” as a result. He added that UN relief agencies are facing increased demands to provide humanitarian assistance and “much remains to be done” to help the people of Gaza.