World News 31/08/2014

Gaza conflict costs agriculture and fisheries sector more than $100m

The food insecurity levels in Gaza were already at 57 per cent, and 40 per cent of the population were unemployed

Christian Aid partner in Gaza, the Agricultural Development Association, estimates that the recent conflict has cost the agricultural and fisheries sectors more than US$100 million, resulting in more than 8,700 families losing their means of income.

The association have managed to survey 4,700 Gazan farmers and small holders over the last few weeks, 65 per cent of the farming population, with findings revealing that 3,670 acres of land used for fruit and vegetable production have been damaged or destroyed.

In addition to the devastated land, farmers have lost more than 316,579 livestock including cows, sheep and chickens, as well as the farms and barns in which they lived, and 1,161 beehives.

Meanwhile the fisheries industry has been completely wiped out with more than 4,000 fishermen unable to take to the sea.

With Gaza’s only power station destroyed at the end of July, refrigeration of the little that can now be produced is almost impossible. With such scarce supplies, prices are spiralling, meaning most people cannot now afford to buy fresh produce.

Figures released by the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) at the beginning of June this year, before the current conflict began, reported that food insecurity levels in Gaza were already at 57 per cent, and 40 per cent of the population were unemployed. UNRWA had already predicted in December 2013 that one million Gazans would need food aid in 2014.

“We urgently need to help families to build back their livelihoods and earn money to feed their families,” said Madeleine McGivern, Programme Officer at Christian Aid.

“Due to the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel, people can’t leave to earn a living elsewhere, they need their land and boats repaired as quickly as possible. A growing number of people were entirely dependent on food aid before this latest round of violence. Now that number will rise even higher.

“The Agricultural Development Association has been working with these communities for decades, supporting the agricultural and fisheries sectors, despite the severe limitations on the development of these sectors as a result of the Israeli imposed blockade. In a matter of weeks this conflict has once again fuelled the ‘de-development’ of the Gazan economy with huge destruction to these sectors and the lives of fishermen, farmers, and their families, which will take years to recover from.”

di S. C.