UN Middle East Coordinator Concerned over Gaza Isolation

Gaza, March 3, 2015 (WAFA) – United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry expressed concerns over the growing isolation of the Gaza Strip in light of the still standing Israeli restrictions and closure of border crossing.

He said in a statement published Monday, “I am worried that Gaza is more isolated than ever, with many restrictions still in place at Israeli crossings for both goods and people and with the Rafah crossing practically closed.”

Being always in the forefront of calls to end the blockade and reconstruct Gaza, Serry said, “Some progress is now being made as part of the temporary Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM).”

UN statistics reveal that over 72,000 households have been cleared to receive construction material, which means that three quarters of the estimated 100,000 households in need are being helped and around 55,000 have actually purchased material to rebuild their homes.

However, Gaza refugees remain frustrated due to the slow pace of reconstruction. “Many of those who now have access to building material, lack the money to buy them or to carry out the works.”

Meanwhile, the situation for non-refugees is even worse as only a small percentage of the $5.4 billion pledged at the Cairo Reconstruction Conference has actually been disbursed, which is “unacceptable” as Serry said.

He expressed his concern over the lack of enough progress regarding enabling the Government of National Consensus (GNC) to assume its rightful responsibilities in Gaza even six months after the ceasefire ended the last war.

Serry urged all concerned parties to commit to rehabilitating Gaza as it is expected to take years. He said “commitment from all concerned parties for a long-term ‘reconstruction hudna [truce]’, under the umbrella of the GNC” is needed.

He urgently called on all stakeholders, including the GNC, Palestinian factions, Israel, Egypt, the international community and donors, to change their failed policies and adopt a ‘Gaza first’ strategy.

Serry said he will be briefing the Security Council in late March for the last time and underline the need for prioritizing Gaza.

The UN continuously called for an end to the blockade as a prerequisite for a stable, functioning economy in Gaza. “You also cannot have a stable, functioning economy without a more durable ceasefire and a recognized, legitimate and inclusive Government leading Gaza’s recovery,” added Serry.

UNRWA suspended cash payments to refugee families because of the lack of donor support.