Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ministry: 36,000 Palestinians stranded amid month-long Rafah closure


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Thursday that tens of thousands of Palestinians are currently unable to cross the Rafah crossing with Egypt despite an urgent need, as a closure of the border by Egyptian authorities enters its fifth week.

Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzm said during a press conference in Gaza City that 6,000 Palestinians are stuck on the Egyptian side of the crossing unable to return home, while 30,000 humanitarian cases -- including sick people seeking treatment abroad, students, and foreign-passport holders -- are stuck on the Gaza side, unable to leave.

Al-Buzm called the closure of the Rafah crossing for four weeks a "humanitarian disaster" for the Gaza Strip, adding that Egyptian authorities are currently closing the crossing "for no logical reason."

Al-Buzm pointed out that the Rafah crossing has been closed for 208 days this year so far, severely limiting the movement of people and goods.

He requested the Egyptian authorities to open the crossing to traffic in both ways, noting that the crossing "has never been a burden on Egyptian security and there had never been any security violations on the crossing."

Al-Buzm said that the closure of the crossing has prevented many supplies and aid shipments from entering the Gaza Strip following the 51-day Israeli offensive that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead and around 108,000 homeless.

According to the United Nations, nearly 30,000 Palestinians are still staying shelters across the Gaza Strip, as Israel and Egypt have jointly prevented construction supplies from entering, hindering reconstruction. more

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