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Gaza: UN confirms permission to import building materials, urges action on energy crisis

9 December 2013 – The Government of Israel has decided to resume the transfer of construction materials for United Nations projects in Gaza, the top UN envoy for the Middle East confirmed today, while stressing the urgency of addressing the shortage of energy and other needs of Palestinians in the territory.

“The United Nations is implementing a package worth $500 million of critical construction projects such as schools, social housing and water and sanitation facilities in Gaza,” Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement confirming the materials transfer.

At the same time, he said: “The United Nations hopes that a solution will be found quickly to the particularly pressing energy situation, and calls on the support of the international community in this regard.”

Power supply has been severely limited for the 1.7 million Gaza residents during the time since the only power plant in Gaza was shut down due to a critical fuel shortage on 1 November, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Electricity is supplied through Israeli and Egyptian feeder lines but the Gaza Power Plant provides approximately 30 per cent of Gaza’s total energy supply, the Office said.

In his statement today, Mr. Serry stressed that the energy issue, as well as water and private sector construction, should be dealt without delay. “Now is the time for those considering a contribution to step forward, urgently and decisively,” he said.

Senior UN officials have repeatedly called for an end to the blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza which continues to have a serious humanitarian impact on civilians and perpetuates an unsustainable and unacceptable situation for the territory’s population.

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Source: UN News Centre – Middle East

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