High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein - UN Photo - Jean-Marc Ferré
CAIRO – 13 August 2017: The spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ravina Shamdasani, said in a statement Friday that the organization is “deeply concerned about the steady deterioration in the humanitarian conditions and the protection of human rights in Gaza.”
The statement was published on OHCHR’s official website. It describes the current situation in Gaza by saying, “At the height of summer, with soaring temperatures, electricity provision has not risen above six hours per day since the beginning of the current crisis in April, and has often been under four hours.” The statement continues to explain the negative impact of the electricity problem in Gaza, as it reads, “This has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services. Power outages threaten the life and well-being of vulnerable groups, particularly those needing urgent medical care. We have observed an increasingly dire situation for the men, women and children of Gaza amid a deepening economic crisis, coupled with continuing restrictions on movement and freedom of expression.”
OHCHR explains that this situation in the Gaza Strip has not only affected the daily lives of Palestinians in the Strip, but also contributed to “violent crime, domestic violence, including femicides, and attempted suicides; although exact data is hard to obtain.”
The United Nations organization blamed Israel, the Palestinian authority in Ramallah and the authorities in Gaza for not meeting their obligation to serve the residents of Gaza and for not protecting their rights. “Israel, as the occupying power, has responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure the well-being of the population,” according to the OHCHR statement.
OHCHR called for lifting the imposed Israeli blockade and closure on the Gaza Strip, as it continues to disproportionately affect the civilian population. Referring to the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah and the latest measures by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the statement reads, “The recent measures to decrease the provision of electricity, and to cut the salaries and order early retirement of civil servants in Gaza, are having a direct, negative impact on the social and economic rights of people in Gaza.”
The statement concluded, “We urge Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza to uphold the human rights of the population in Gaza. We also call on the international community to respond to the U.N.’s urgent appeal for humanitarian aid, to honor pledges made to support reconstruction and development of Gaza and to work with the parties to bring a resolution to the current crisis.”
In July, the U.N. warned that Gaza, which marked its tenth year since the beginning of the internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah factions that resulted in Hamas controlling the Strip in 2007, is going in a degenerative process, leading the area to become unlivable by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and the effects of Israel's longstanding blockade.
“We talk about the inhospitable nature of Gaza. When you’re down to two hours of power a day and you have 60 percent youth unemployment rates… that inhospitable threshold has been passed quite a long time ago,” said the humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, in an interview with Reuters.