The humanitarian impact of reduced access between Gaza and Egypt, Situation Report - 23 September 2013

Highlights

• Largely related to the long-term restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip through Israeli-controlled crossings, the economy and the population in Gaza have become dependent upon the illegal tunnel trade, stemming from smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt, and the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing, which has become the primary passenger entry and exit point to the outside world.

• Recent action to counter illegal activities and insecurity in the Sinai have included imposing severe restrictions on movement of people through the Rafah Crossing with the Gaza Strip and closing down smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border. At the same time, there have been only limited easings of the ongoing restrictions imposed at legitimate crossing points from Israel. Consequently, an already fragile humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has worsened.

• On average, fewer than 398 people per day have crossed the Rafah Crossing in both directions since July 2013, about 29 per cent of the numbers who crossed in the first half of 2013 (1,353).

• Fewer than ten smuggling tunnels are believed to be operating, down from approximately 300 tunnels prior to June; these were the main channel for the supply of construction materials and fuel.

• The Gaza Power Plant (GPP) has been forced to reduce electricity production and may shut down completely, if adequate fuel supplies are not urgently made available.

• Fuel shortages and increased power outages are significantly impacting the provision of essential services, shortages of construction materials are impeding maintenance and rehabilitation of essential service infrastructure, and restricted access for people through Rafah Crossing is impeding access to specialized health services abroad.

• On 17 September, it was confirmed that the Government of Israel would permit 50 truckloads a day of construction material for the Gaza private sector through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, in addition to the 20 truckloads that has been allowed in daily since December 2012. These imports began on 22 September.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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