Sunday, January 13, 2008

Food Crisis Worsening in Gaza

GENEVA (AFP) — Food is running short for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the impoverished Gaza Strip and more aid is urgently needed to prevent a humanitarian crisis, the World Food Programme said on Friday.

Some 302,000 people need food aid in Gaza, equivalent to nearly two-thirds of the population not including refugees, WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told journalists.

"The situation is getting worse by the day," she said.

Nearly 70 percent of the 1.5 million people in Gaza live on less than 250 dollars (169 euros) a month, while food accounts for 60 percent of household expenditure.

Gaza has been under strict economic sanctions since the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in June, with Israel cutting off food and fuel supplies.

Anaemia rates have risen to 77.5 percent as Gaza's isolation has deepened, Berthiaume said.

The WFP said it has raised its Gaza appeal budget to 141 million dollars due to higher logistical costs and the rising price of foodstuffs.

The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees warned on Thursday that the isolation of Gaza was causing untold misery and fostering extremism.

"I would like the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza to be acknowledged and there to be some recognition that only a third of the people in Gaza support Hamas," said Karen Koning AbuZayd, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency.

"We are seeing evidence of stunting of the children, their growth is slowing, because our ration is only 61 percent of what people should have and that has to be supplemented," she said.

Article here.

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