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MCC responds to Gaza blockade crisis with emergency assistance

Gladys Terichow
February 1, 2008

A shortage of fuel and power in the Gaza Strip is driving up food prices, medicine and other basic necessities needed to survive, says Daryl Byler, MCC representative based in Amman, Jordan.

Many items are now completely unavailable in Gaza or too expensive for many families, he added.

Mennonite Central Committee is responding to this crisis by providing $25,000 in emergency assistance to buy food, blankets and warm winter clothing for 180 of Gaza’s most vulnerable households in the Khan Yunis Refugee Camp and Gaza City.

Food and supplies will be purchased locally by MCC’s long standing partner organizations in Gaza and distributed to families selected by these local organizations.

Purchasing locally, he said, is not an optimal solution because severe shortages already exist in the Gaza Strip but it is the only workable solution at this point.

“This plan is a stop-gap measure to keep the situation for households in Khan Yunis and Gaza City from declining further,” said Byler. “The political situation in Gaza must change in order for sustainable improvements to take place.”
Israel has blockaded the impoverished Gaza Strip since Hamas defeated the Fatah Party headed by Mahmoud Abbas last June. In response to rocket attacks by Hamas, the Israeli government stepped up the economic blockade January 17 by not allowing fuel into the Gaza Strip, home to more than 1.5 million people.
Israeli human rights groups challenged the sanctions but an Israeli court ruling January 30 upheld the government’s decision to slash fuel and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Due to the current insecurity, MCC workers are not living in Gaza but visit the region and are in close communication with partner organizations.

These partners are reporting that it is very difficult for food, fuel, medical and other supplies to get into Gaza and that both material resources and food are desperately needed.

MCC is exploring options for shipping additional material resources to Gaza from Canada and the United States.