UN expert: Situation in Gaza alarming due to power reductions

Michael Lynk

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating to unprecedented levels as new reductions in the already extremely limited power supply have been announced, a United Nations expert has warned.

Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, said the situation was “extremely distressing” and getting worse with every passing week.

“All the parties with a direct hand in the crisis . . . must act immediately with the best interests of the population in Gaza in mind to resolve this human-made problem,” the expert said.

“This unprecedented reduction of power is increasing the already intolerable levels of misery being endured by Gazans, particularly for the poor and vulnerable,” added Lynk.

He also noted that the sole power plant in the Strip was badly damaged by the Israeli military offensive in 2014, and that Israel had restricted the importation of replacement parts.

“This entirely avoidable power crisis has had significant repercussions for people living in Gaza,” said the Special Rapporteur.

“The health sector is able to provide only the absolute minimum standard of care – hospitals are being forced to cancel some operations, are cutting back on maintenance, and are dependent on the United Nations for emergency fuel to run their generators,” Lynk said.

“Raw sewage cannot be treated and is pouring into the Mediterranean. Desalination plants are functioning at one-seventh of their capacity, and drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce,” he stressed.

The Special Rapporteur warned almost every aspect of daily life was now being affected.

“For the vast majority of Gazans, the power crisis intensifies the already serious humanitarian crisis,” he said. “There is a severe impact on sanitation, food preservation, cooking, and the use of computers and telephones.

“The cost of food is dramatically rising. Irrigation for farming is restricted. Manufacturing companies are closing or reducing their production hours. Unemployment – already the highest in the world at 40% – is increasing.”

“Even before these current hardships, Gaza has endured a decade-long blockade and closure imposed by Israel, with the economy collapsing and poverty and unemployment rates soaring,” he said. “This new energy crisis has made a very bad situation much worse.”

Beyond resolving the immediate power supply crisis, Lynk also called for an end to Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza, with security guarantees for both Israelis and Palestinians.

“Keeping Gaza economically crippled and socially isolated is a recipe for humanitarian distress and another conflict in the near future,” he said. “The rights of all people to freedom and security must be respected in order to achieve peace.”

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council designated Michael Lynk (Canada) as the seventh Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. As a Special Rapporteur, Lynk is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

(Source / 16.06.2017)

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