Gaza To Be ‘Unliveable’ By 2020: UN Report

By: EW News Desk Team   Date: 30 August 2012

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30 August 2012

The Gaza Strip, bordering Egypt and Israel, may be practically ‘unliveable’ by 2020, said a report by the United Nations this week, with nearly 2.1 million expected to be displaced due to lack of improvement in water, power, health, education and sanitation facilities.

The report, entitled “Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?” claimed that the region’s basic infrastructure was "struggling to keep pace with a growing population,” after an Israeli blockade had left the area “essentially isolated since 2005.”

“Gaza remains subject to severe restrictions on imports, exports and the movement of people, by land, air and sea, as a result of the blockade Israel imposed on the area for what it called security reasons after the Hamas group, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, ousted the Fatah movement in the Strip in 2007,” the report said.

“Its (Gaza’s) economy is fundamentally unviable under present circumstances,” and it is currently [only] kept alive through external funding and the illegal tunnel economy,” the UN added.

Related: Israel Joins OECD Just Before Intercepting Gaza-Bound Flotilla

Related: Turkish Gaza Aid Flotilla Attacked By Israeli Navy

Israel, on its part, has repeatedly insisted that the restrictions, which are policed with Egyptian co-operation, are necessary so as to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas.

In an angry letter to Security Council President Gerard Araud, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, added that the officials who wrote the document “conveniently failed to mention that Hamas has brutally hijacked Gaza and deliberately targets Israeli civilians in relentless rocket attacks.”

“While Israel’s schoolchildren were taking cover in bomb shelters, the UN released yet another biased report about Gaza. Apparently, the roar of rockets flying out of Gaza has not reached the deaf ears of the UN agencies that produced this report,” wrote Prosor, as cited by the Jerusalem Post.

Defending the report however, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Maxwell Gaylard noted that Gaza could not  return to economic progress and prosperity unless trade, communication and contact was established with the rest of the world.

“An urban area cannot survive without being connected,” Gaylard said, pointing to the difficulty of improving the situation in the region given "the closure of the Gaza Strip, violent conflict, and the pressing need for Palestinian reconciliation.”

According to the report, Gaza’s population will increase from 1.6 million people today to 2.1 million people in 2020, resulting in a density of more than 5,800 people per square kilometre.

“The substantial population growth rate will thus add some 500,000 people to a living area which is restricted and already heavily urbanized,” it states.

“By 2020, electricity provision will need to double to meet demand, damage to the coastal aquifer will be irreversible without immediate remedial action, and hundreds of new schools and expanded health services will be needed for an overwhelmingly young population,” the report adds.

If the region does not respond to Gaza’s plight immediately, “the daily lives of Gazans in 2020 will be worse than they are now,” the report went to say.

Related: Gaza Strip Economic Statistics and Indicators

Related: Palestine’s Economy Not Ready For Independence, Says World Bank

Related: Economic Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians?

“There will be virtually no reliable access to sources of safe drinking water, standards of healthcare and education will have continued to decline, and the vision of affordable and reliable electricity for all will have become a distant memory for most. “

Read the Full Report Here

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