UN Releases Additional $2.5 million to Address Energy Crisis in Gaza

With Gaza entering its fourth month of a serious energy crisis, the United Nations on Thursday released a further $2.5 million from a pooled humanitarian fund to cover urgent needs in the Palestinian enclave, a UN press release said.

The disbursement from the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian Territory will bolster the UN’s emergency fuel operation, which primarily supplies fuel to generators to maintain operations in around 190 critical health, water and sanitation installations. Virtually all the two million Palestinians living in Gaza benefit from this fuel operation.

The funding will also provide essential life-saving medical equipment and supplies. Solar panels, cash assistance and agricultural supplies are also included to improve food security and reduce food production costs for 2,200 small-scale farmers who irrigate by pumping from small wells.

Gaza has been experiencing a severe electricity crisis since mid-April, when the Gaza Power Plant went offline due to a factional dispute between the Palestinian Authority and the rival Hamas group in Gaza over tax rates for the fuel needed at the plant.

According to the UN, power supply to households and services has barely covered 25 per cent of needs over the last six weeks, while hospitals and other facilities are operating almost 24/7 on generators that are not designed for continuous use in this way.

The last bulk shipment of essential drugs from the West Bank was in March 2017; an estimated 40 per cent of essential drugs are unavailable already, or will be totally depleted within four weeks. There is a large backlog of patients requiring urgent medical referral to hospitals outside the strip.

In early July, humanitarian partners in the Occupied Palestinian Territory identified an urgent set of top-priority interventions to respond to the current crisis and appealed for $25 million. To date, this urgent funding appeal is only 30 per cent funded.

“The serious decline in living conditions in Gaza continues,” said UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian Territory, Robert Piper, in a press release.

“The humanitarian plight and the human rights of Gaza’s civilian population – over half of them children – appear to have disappeared from view,” Piper said.

The Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian Territory is operated from donations currently from the Governments of Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, the press release noted.

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