Monday, February 9, 2009

Difficulties of Getting Aid into Gaza Persist

Irin, Gaza City, February 8, 2009 - Aid agencies are becoming increasingly frustrated with the difficulties of getting humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip.

“For us to move ahead with rehabilitation and repairs, we must get building materials into Gaza,” Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), told IRIN by telephone. “Two hundred and twenty-one schools for 200,000 children only have 40 percent of their books because we can’t get paper and glue into Gaza.”

Some US$93 million-worth of UNRWA construction projects have been on hold since before Israel’s military operation in Gaza began in late December due to a lack of cement, said Gunness....

We have had difficulties entering our education supplies, like paper,” Marixie Mercato, a UNICEF spokesperson, told IRIN from Jerusalem. “These are not problematic goods,” he added, referring to Israeli restrictions on goods entering the Strip that have security implications.

Several UN agencies and other aid organisations say Israeli authorities have a confidential list of items prohibited from entering Gaza. Certain items, such as cement and paper, are commonly denied entry....

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