UNRWA official blames "political situation" for Gazans' ordeal
Date: 22/04/2010      Time: 10:28:00 PM
John Ging, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, on Thursday depicted a grim picture of the living conditions in Gaza because of the three-year long blockade, blaming the "political situation" for the plight of the Palestinians living there. People in Gaza are "struggling to survive. The infrastructure of water and sanitation is in a state of collapse. There is no legitimate economy anymore. The physical and psychological suffering continues on a daily basis," Ging said in his opening remarks at a press conference here without mentioning Israel. "It is time to put people before the politics. If we do focus on the needs of the people, in our view, that will make the politics easier moving forward. Abandon the people, leave the people to despair and desperation, that will make the politics more difficult moving forward," he said. He noted that there has been a positive development recently and "we welcome that very much," in reference to Israel easing the blockade during the last two weeks, but, he said, that was only a "drop in a bucket," insisting that "is not a half-full glass." UNRWA preoccupation right now, he said, is the registration for the next school year. "We have not been able to accommodate thousands of children who were seeking a UN education in Gaza. We have not been allowed to build a school in Gaza for three years," he explained. Asked who is responsible for that situation, Ging said the International Agreement on Moving and Access signed in 2005 between Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority provides for access through various Israeli and Egyptian crossing points, adding that there will soon be air access for passengers and sea access for supplies. He called on all parties to have the political will to move forward because "failure has a consequence and the consequence is too-high a price to pay going forward, starting the physical incapacity of UNRWA to educate thousands of children who are unequivocally innocent in this conflict." "There are plenty of physical possibilities to solve this problem. And it is way past time now that there is a solution to this, because the price of political failure is being paid for by the children and the elimination of their hopeful future," he said. Ging encouraged foreign political delegations to visit Gaza where they will be treated by Gazans with respect. "That's one of the features that strikes people when they come to the Gaza Strip. There is a distance between the mischaracterization of Gaza, as a so-called 'hostile entity,' and the scale of the civility of the people who populate the Gaza Strip in these very uncivilized circumstances. They are very civilized people who manifest very clearly interact with visitors."