A Palestinian woman sits with a child after receiving food supplies from the United Nations' offices at the United Nations' offices in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, February 11, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)
Against the background of 14 years of an illegal blockade and the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza said it is extremely concerned about the closure of Gaza’s lone power plant since last Tuesday, 18 August.
UNRWA said in a statement that the closure of the power plant has caused the power feed to decline to two to three hours per day, followed by 20 hours of interruption. Such poor power feed will negatively impact on the wellbeing and safety of the people of Gaza. It will also have devastating effects on Gaza’s vital services, including hospitals, thus putting the lives and health of nearly two million people, including 1.4 million registered Palestine refugees, at risk.
Under International Humanitarian Law, the passage of all relief consignments, in this case fuel for electricity, should not be prevented. “We are calling on all concerned parties to maintain a supply of electricity that is sufficient to meet the basic needs of the civilian population,” said the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Matthias Schmale.
UNRWA is, furthermore, concerned about other measures perceived as punitive to the civilian population, such as closing down the fishing zone, as well as the escalating tensions and military activities. Gaza has now been hit by air raids for more than ten nights in a row. “All parties must show utmost restraint and protect the civilian population with full respect for their dignity and human rights,” added Schmale.