Oxfam International Blogs - blockade http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/blockade en Pushing for peace in Gaza http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-08-03-pushing-peace-gaza <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Israel’s more-than ten year blockade on Gaza has had <a href="https://news.sky.com/story/locked-in-the-devastating-effects-of-israels-gaza-blockade-11389198" rel="nofollow">devastating consequences</a>, with </strong><strong>life-saving aid destined for water, sanitation and health care being blocked. Alison Martin, Oxfam Policy and Campaigns Manager, </strong><strong>reflects on the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/israel-tightens-gaza-blockade-civilians-bear-brunt" rel="nofollow">impact </a>of new restrictions and lays out the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/israel-tightens-gaza-blockade-civilians-bear-brunt" rel="nofollow">urgent steps toward peace</a> and progress in Gaza.</strong></p><p>Last time I was in Gaza I was seven months pregnant and I left hoping that by the time my son was born, things might be better for babies born in Gaza – because it was hard to imagine they could get any worse.</p><p>That was over a year ago and in July the Israeli government announced what has been <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/penalty-gaza-merchants-suffer-trade-crossing-shuts-180713124155794.html" rel="nofollow"><strong>described as a death penalty</strong></a> for Gaza’s economy: a further tightening of Israel’s unlawful blockade on Gaza, shutting down the Strip’s main commercial crossing, stopping urgent fuel and gas imports and forcing vital donor-funded construction to a standstill.</p><p>The Israeli government imposed these measures in response to individuals and groups sending flaming kites and balloons out of Gaza. However these measures punish everyone in Gaza - civilians, children – people who have done nothing to deserve it.</p><p><img alt="Khalil Al-Najjar, a fisherman at Khanyounis anchorage, Southern Gaza. Photo: Hussam Salem/Oxfam" title="Khalil Al-Najjar, a fisherman at Khanyounis anchorage, Southern Gaza. Photo: Hussam Salem/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="4" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/fisherman-3f9b8317-1240x680.jpg" /></p><p><em>Khalil Al-Najjar, a fisherman at Khanyounis anchorage, Southern Gaza. Photo: Hussam Salem/Oxfam</em></p><h3>What do the latest restrictions mean?</h3><p>The closure also means farmers can’t export their produce, which will now go to waste, and Israel has further reduced the permitted fishing zone – already a fraction of what was decreed under the Oslo accords - so it’s even harder to make a decent catch. Eleven-year-old Ghaleb recently told Oxfam his father used to catch ten or twenty kilograms of fish, now it’s just one or even a half kilogram.</p><p>“It becomes scary,” Ghaleb said. “Whoever goes out deeper into the sea will be arrested and they will confiscate their equipment.”</p><p>Every day that Gaza’s crossing is closed means many children wait even longer for access to safe water and toilets – basic rights that we take for granted. At least 97% of the water in Gaza is undrinkable and <a href="https://www.unicef.org/wash/oPt_100684.html" rel="nofollow"><strong>nearly one quarter of the population</strong></a> is not connected to a sewage network- the combined result of 50 years of Israeli occupation compounded by recurrent conflict. Water-related diseases are the <strong><a href="http://apps.who.int/gb/Statements/Report_Palestinian_territory/Report_Palestinian_territory-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">primary cause of child morbidity</a></strong> and estimated to account for over a quarter of illnesses in Gaza. And the Israeli government’s latest restrictions threaten to exacerbate this already grim situation.</p><p>In the water sector alone, projects currently being blocked include: a major desalination plant in Gaza city that would provide water to 200,000 people, water tanks and a water booster system that would provide water to over 190,000 people, and facilities that would treat wastewater for hundreds of thousands of households and reduce the sewage contamination currently being pumped into the sea.</p><p>The crossing was partially reopened on 24 July 2018 to allow some fuel and gas, however <strong><a href="https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/180774-180801-liberman-bans-fuel-gas-entering-gaza-through-kerem-shalom-crossing" rel="nofollow">the ban was reinstated</a></strong> from 2 August. The only items currently being allowed into Gaza are food, medicine and animal fodder on a case-by-case basis.</p><p><img alt="Millions of liters of sewage are discharged off the coast of Gaza every day. Photo: Sami Alhaw/Oxfam" title="Millions of liters of sewage are discharged off the coast of Gaza every day. Photo: Sami Alhaw/Oxfam" height="827" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/sewage-discharged-into-coast-off-gaza-every-day-oxfam-2017.jpg" /></p><p><em>Millions of liters of sewage are discharged off the coast of Gaza every day. Credit: Sami Alhaw/Oxfam</em></p><h3>Does anyone care?</h3><p>Maybe.</p><p>But the question is, does anyone care enough to hold the Israeli Government responsible for the man made humanitarian disaster that continues to intensify in Gaza? The answer – at least for the moment - feels to me like ‘no.’</p><p>The closure means that no items are permitted to enter even via the internationally-funded <strong><a href="https://grm.report/" rel="nofollow">Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism</a></strong> (GRM), established by the UN to facilitate the entry of construction materials and a range of items classified by Israel as ‘dual use’ and therefore heavily controlled (as Israel asserts these items may also have a military application).</p><p>The UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Australia are still funding the mechanism but have <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/treading-water-worsening-water-crisis-and-gaza-reconstruction-mechanism" rel="nofollow"><strong>failed to effectively hold Israel accountable</strong></a> to allow construction and economic development at the pace needed to help Gaza. Although initiated as a temporary mechanism, the GRM remains in place today.</p><p>Water, health and sanitation projects amounting to tens of millions of US dollars, funded by international donors, are currently being blocked by Israeli government-imposed restrictions.</p><p>And that’s just one of several vital sectors impacted by the blockade.</p><p><img alt="Oxfam supported Hoda Hassan, mother of 6, with an entrepreneurial course which helped her open a shop, in Gaza. Photo: Adeline Guerra/Oxfam" title="Oxfam supported Hoda Hassan, mother of 6, with an entrepreneurial course which helped her open a shop, in Gaza. Photo: Adeline Guerra/Oxfam" height="800" width="1200" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/hoda-0w0a7319-1200.jpg" /></p><p><em><em>Oxfam supported Hoda Hassan, mother of 6, with an entrepreneurial course which helped her open a shop in what used to be her children’s bedroom in Gaza. She hopes to use the profits to build an extension so her kids no longer need to sleep in the living room. Unemployment among women in Gaza is 71%. Credit: Adeline Guerra/Oxfam</em></em></p><h3>What can we do about it?</h3><p>A lot.</p><p>If you were paying millions of dollars to build infrastructure, wouldn’t you push for accountability to ensure it was done?</p><p>Impunity remains a major obstacle to economic recovery. Without effective accountability and pressure on parties to allow construction and promote economic development, there is little hope for progress or justice for Palestinians in Gaza.</p><p>Aid agencies in Gaza are <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/israel-tightens-gaza-blockade-civilians-bear-brunt" rel="nofollow">calling for immediate action</a></strong> to address the causes of the deepening crisis, including demanding the reversal of recent restrictions on imports and exports. We condemn violence against civilians on all sides, including the shooting of Palestinian civilians by Israeli snipers, and indiscriminate rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons sent from Gaza. Both Palestinians and Israelis deserve peace and to live in dignity without fear of violence or oppression.</p><p>Israel’s <strong><a href="http://gisha.org/en-blog/2017/04/20/the-dual-use-list-finally-gets-published-but-its-the-opposite-of-useful/" rel="nofollow">‘dual use’ list</a></strong> must be urgently and continuously challenged and essential items to support the water, electricity and health sectors should be immediately removed from the list.</p><p>Israel must be held accountable to allow the entry of items essential for the provision of basic services to protect public health in Gaza.</p><h3><img alt="An 11-year-old in Gaza has never experienced a full day of electricity. Photo: Adeline Guerra/Oxfam" title="An 11-year-old in Gaza has never experienced a full day of electricity. Photo: Adeline Guerra/Oxfam" height="525" width="350" style="float: right; margin: 0px 0px 10px 20px;" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="3" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/boys-in-truck-0w0a7451-350x525.jpg" />End the Gaza blockade</h3><p>These are the initial urgent steps we recommend are taken towards fully ending the blockade.</p><p>Until that happens, international assistance - including funding directed toward economic development - will be severely hampered by the blockade. In the context of an unlawful blockade, aid remains vital however is vulnerable to political and often punitive measures imposed unilaterally, with devastating and immediate impacts on civilians.</p><p>Until accountability is prioritized, babies will continue to be born into homes without safe water, at risk of disease and death, as people are prevented from supporting themselves and even international aid can’t make it through the blockade.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/israel-tightens-gaza-blockade-civilians-bear-brunt" rel="nofollow">Read Oxfam’s latest report on Gaza</a>.</strong> <br><br><em>This entry posted by Alison Martin (<a href="https://twitter.com/ali_m_martin" rel="nofollow">@ali_m_martin</a>), Oxfam Policy and Campaigns Manager, on 3 August 2018.</em></p><p><em>Top photo: Gaza sunset. <em>Families receive around only 4 hours of electricity daily. An 11-year-old in Gaza has never experienced a full day of electricity. <em>Credit: Adeline Guerra/Oxfam</em></em><br></em></p><p><em>Bottom photo: Boys in a truck. Credit: Adeline Guerra/Oxfam</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Pushing for peace in Gaza</h2></div> Fri, 03 Aug 2018 14:19:54 +0000 Alison Martin 81667 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-08-03-pushing-peace-gaza#comments Gaza is dying in front of everybody http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-05-23-gaza-dying-front-everybody <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Tim Holmes, Oxfam Program Manager, reports back on his recent visit to Gaza and reflects on the challenges people living there face in their daily lives.</strong></p><p><strong></strong>A powerful smell hit me as I entered Gaza a fortnight ago. Not the smell of burning tyres from the ongoing protests, or the tear gas that has been used in response, but the smell of raw sewage. As I walked the few hundred meters through the wire cage corridor from the Israeli border security across the ‘access restricted area’ to the Palestinian border control, I crossed over a small stream of sewage slowly oozing from the Gaza Strip, under the huge turreted border wall, into Israel.</p><h3>Why is this happening?</h3><p>Well, a bunch of reasons. Without sufficient electricity or fuel, sewage treatment plants cannot function. What is left of the sanitation infrastructure that wasn’t destroyed by the last Gaza war in 2014, was designed for far fewer people than are now living in this small enclave. Expansion, operation and maintenance is difficult when there are multiple and severe Israeli restrictions on goods, including spare parts, entering Gaza.</p><p>The financial resources available for authorities responsible for sanitation in Gaza are woefully inadequate.</p><p>If people only had to cope with the smell of sewage and a collapsing sanitation system, perhaps life in Gaza would still be bearable. However, many people I met didn’t even refer to the sewage problem – there were too many other challenges to talk about.</p><h3>Water is a key issue</h3><p>More than 96% of water from the coastal aquifer where Gaza gets most of its water is undrinkable due to salinity. To access clean water, people often have to pay private water truckers who distribute water from small desalination plants – this costs six times as much as the regular water supply.&nbsp; Part of Oxfam’s work in Gaza involves providing safe water by rehabilitating damaged water systems, but the task is ongoing.</p><p>Electricity has been a problem in Gaza for many years, but now it is out for 20 hours a day. This could be dismissed as an inconvenience but just imagine the stress and frustration of having to live without lights, refrigeration, access to the internet, or elevators in apartment buildings, let alone the far more serious disruption to hospitals, clinics, schools and water and sanitation services.</p><p>I was struck that the streets were so much emptier than when I was last in Gaza five years ago. I was told that this was because those who have cars couldn’t afford fuel and anyway people didn’t have enough money to go out for shopping beyond the basics. The Economist has estimated that people in Gaza are 25 per cent poorer today than they were at the time of the Oslo Accords, 25 years ago. More than 80% of the two million people in Gaza are currently receiving humanitarian assistance.</p><h3>Staggering unemployment</h3><p>I spoke to parents whose children are recent university graduates but they are sitting around at home getting more and more frustrated. According to the <a href="http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/westbankandgaza/publication/economic-outlook-april-2018" rel="nofollow">World Bank</a>, unemployment in Gaza is at 44% – for those below 29 years, it is at a staggering 60%.</p><p>Oxfam is working with local partners to help people have better access to livelihoods, and with local farmers and producers to improve the quality of their produce and help them get it to market to improve their incomes. I spoke to the owner of a dairy processing unit that Oxfam has supported as part of its work to improve the dairy sector across Gaza.</p><p>I was told that the years of occupation, wars and blockade, combined with a new low in the economic and humanitarian situation in recent months, has meant that this is ‘now the worst time in our history’.</p><p>The level of despair and the lack of hope in the future was also striking in many of the conversations I had, and was much more pronounced than on my previous visits. As a result, I wasn’t surprised to learn that United Nations medical staff have recently referred to an ‘epidemic of psycho-social conditions’ in Gaza.</p><h3>End the blockade</h3><p>The people I spoke to shared with me their anger that the world is doing nothing to help them. I was told that even when help does come it is only in the form of insufficient albeit needed humanitarian assistance, rather than a resolution to the conflict, the end to the protracted occupation, the end to the illegal blockade of Gaza and having their right to self-determination fulfilled which is what people in Gaza really want.</p><p>Human rights organisations in Gaza told me of their exasperation that the Government of Israel and other parties to the conflict are not held to account under international law by the international community.</p><p>People I spoke to explained that because of this apparent impunity and the lack of alternative options, and despite the large number of deaths and injuries, they were generally supportive of the current protests continuing.</p><p>Some specified that they would only support non-violent demonstrations. I was told that ‘people in Gaza are doing their best to survive’ but that, despite this, ‘Gaza is dying in front of everybody’.</p><p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZVKVu-ZnX2E" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe></p><h3>Oxfam’s policy positions on Gaza in general and regarding the recent protests:</h3><ul><li>The blockade – now in place for more than a decade – has devastated Gaza’s economy, left most people unable to leave Gaza, restricted people from essential services such as healthcare and education, and cut Palestinians off from each other. Israel must end the blockade on Gaza, which is collectively punishing an entire civilian population.</li><li>There must be a long-term solution to the crisis. The international community needs to redouble efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace based on international law, that brings security and development to all Palestinians and Israelis.</li><li>Oxfam condemns the deaths and injuries of unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Unarmed Palestinians have the right to make their voices heard and the right to freedom of assembly and expression. Israel must abide by its obligations under international law to protect life and exercise the utmost restraint in accordance with law-enforcement standards on the use of force.</li><ul><li>According to <a href="https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/ocha-flash-update-sharp-decline-casualties-during" rel="nofollow">OCHA</a>, 104 Palestinians, including twelve children, have been killed by Israeli forces during the course of the Gaza demonstrations since March 30. As of May 14, the latest rounds of protests at Gaza border resulted in 60 fatalities (including 8 children) and 2,770 injuries as a result of live fire. The number of injuries since the beginning of the protests has been 12,600. Fifty-five per cent of these have required hospitalisation. One Israeli soldier was also lightly injured.</li></ul></ul><p><em>This entry posted by Tim Holmes, Program Portfolio Manager at Oxfam GB, on 23 May 2018.</em></p><p><em>Photo: Destruction in Gaza. Oxfam and our partners’ humanitarian and development work helps around 350,000 people in Gaza impoverished by the Israeli blockade. Credit: Iyad al Baba/Oxfam</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Gaza is dying in front of everybody</h2></div> Wed, 23 May 2018 15:48:49 +0000 Tim Holmes 81559 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-05-23-gaza-dying-front-everybody#comments 10 years under blockade, every day life seems extraordinary in Gaza http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-10-21-10-years-under-blockade-every-day-life-seems-extraordinary-gaza <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Our 4-wheel-drive passes underneath the remains of a wedding celebration: silver streamers criss-crossed against the sky, catching the sunlight. Ahead, two boys on bicycles bend forward and race headlong into the summer wind, chasing each other along the bitumen of Gaza.</p> <p>The boys on those bicycles are probably around 9 or 10 years old, which means they’ve survived 3 wars in their lifetimes, dating back to 2008, the most recent just two years ago.</p> <p>This small strip of land, hemmed in by the sea and an almost <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/multimedia/video/2016-life-under-siege-tenth-year-gaza-blockade" rel="nofollow">decade-long blockade</a></strong> imposed by Israel in <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session24/Documents/A_HRC_24_30_ENG.doc" rel="nofollow"><strong>violation of international law</strong></a>, has suffered such extreme levels of violence and destruction that it is almost surreal to drive the streets and see that life goes on, in all its universality and ordinariness.</p> <p><img alt="Overlooking Gaza. Photo: Alison Martin/Oxfam" title="Overlooking Gaza. Photo: Alison Martin/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/overlooking-gaza-1240x680_0.jpg" /></p> <h3>Staggering cost of occupation</h3> <p>A <a href="http://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1317" rel="nofollow"><strong>recent UN report</strong></a> documents the “staggering cost” of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian economy, noting that the occupation has cultivated “permanent crises of unemployment, poverty and food insecurity.” The same report found that the Palestinian economy would be at least twice as large without Israeli occupation.</p> <p>Meeting farmers and fishermen in Gaza, it’s easy to imagine the extraordinary potential of the industry and economy here, if it weren’t for Israeli-imposed restrictions. These restrictions affect the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza strip, and also limit access to productive resources such as land and water within Gaza. These “<a href="https://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_ara_factsheet_july_2013_english.pdf" rel="nofollow"><strong>Access Restricted Areas</strong></a>”(ARA) affect up to 35% of Gaza’s agricultural land and as much as 85% of its fishing waters.</p> <p>Restrictions are compounded by the impact of recurrent conflict.</p> <p><img alt="A farmer points out his land in the Access Restricted Area (ARA), overlooking Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza strip. Credit: Alison Martin/Oxfam" title="A farmer points out his land in the Access Restricted Area (ARA), overlooking Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza strip. Credit: Alison Martin/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/farmer-yusuf-1240.jpg" /></p> <h3>"Before my land was very productive"</h3> <p>Farmer Yusuf Abu Amsha (above) says his land has been destroyed six times: “Part of this was destroyed by bulldozers. Part of it was by shooting and bombing the trees.”</p> <p>We’re speaking on the rooftop of a building overlooking Beit Hanoun, a town in the north of the Gaza strip, which has been <a href="http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/features/life-displaced-%E2%80%93-trying-build-home-rooftop-beit-hanoun" rel="nofollow"><strong>devastated</strong></a> by repeated military operations. Yusuf points to his farmlands below, which lie within the ARA near the border with Israel, where famers are limited in their ability to access and cultivate their own land.</p> <p>“Before, my land was very productive. Four families were working for me and I gave them salaries. Now, only my sons and I work on the land, I cannot cover the salaries of workers.”</p> <p>“We are working, working, working and we are spending everything. We spend on our children’s education and on food. We are not saving. Any small shock, and we will suffer,” Yusuf says.</p> <p><img alt="Gaza fishermen. Photo: Oxfam" title="Gaza fishermen. Photo: Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/dsc_2440-fishermen-1240.jpg" /></p> <h3>Fishermen too are subject to restrictions</h3> <p>Israel has been actively limiting the 20 nautical mile fishing zone, as agreed under the Oslo Peace Accords, to 10, 6 or even 3 nautical miles from Gaza beach.</p> <p>Israeli naval ships that surround Gaza at sea confiscate boats that come to close to the cordon. This means that fewer fish can be caught, and those that are caught are of poorer quality and market value.</p> <p>In the face of these constraints, fishermen are forced to employ innovative techniques. Some have installed powerful lights on their boats to attract fish: “They cannot go to the fish, so they get the fish to come to them,” says Mohammed Elbakri, the General Manager of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which provides support to fisherfolk to rehabilitate boats and improve their catches.</p> <p>Fishermen are also subject to violence and arrest, with <a href="http://www.ochaopt.org/sites/default/files/2016_08_18_q2_humanitarian_dashboard_final.pdf" rel="nofollow"><strong>more than 90 arrested and detained</strong></a> this year, the highest figure in any year since records began in 2009.  </p> <p>Protection is what they need most, say the fishermen, as well as access to the sea. "We can't talk about development if we don't let the fishermen do their job and support themselves," Mohammed says.</p> <p>Materials necessary for the repair of boats, such as fiberglass, are classified by Israel as “<a href="http://gisha.org/en-blog/2016/01/31/checking-the-dual-use-list-twice/" rel="nofollow"><strong>dual use</strong></a>,” meaning they could be used for either civilian or harmful purposes and are subject to import restrictions.</p> <p>While the government of Israel has argued that such restrictions are necessary to protect its security interests, both Israeli and international security and political figures have <a href="https://www.facebook.com/gisha.eng/photos/?tab=album&amp;album_id=249326338487066" rel="nofollow"><strong>disputed this</strong></a>.</p> <p>Access to land and fishing areas is essential for Gaza’s economy, creating new jobs and providing sources of food and income, allowing Palestinians in Gaza to reduce their dependency on aid.</p> <p><img alt="Sunset at the beach, Gaza. Photo: Alison Martin/Oxfam" title="Sunset at the beach, Gaza. Photo: Alison Martin/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/beach-scene-sunset-ali-martin-1240x680_0.jpg" /></p> <h3>What next for Gaza?</h3> <p>The UN has <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51770#.WBM5nC0rJaQ" rel="nofollow"><strong>famously predicted</strong></a> that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. And yet Gaza is defiant in its ordinariness. Hotels line the coastline serving fresh fish and strawberry juice in jam jars. Below, the shore is full of families - the sea breeze provides respite from the cloying heat of home, where power cuts mean unreliable or non-existent air conditioning.</p> <p>Children are chasing and being chased by the waves, toddlers are swinging from the arms of uncles, young women are sitting around plastic tables set into the sand, underneath multi-colored beach umbrellas.</p> <p>We could be anywhere in the world, but this normal, everyday, life is extraordinary for what it has overcome.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Alison M. Martin, Oxfam Policy Lead for Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, on 21 October 2016.</em></p> <p><em>Israel's blockade of Gaza keeps people poor and denies them their rights. <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-gaza" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam calls on all parties</strong></a> to the conflict to not allow another escalation in violence, to agree to a lasting ceasefire and an urgent end to the blockade.</em></p> <p><em>All photos credit Alison Martin:</em></p> <ul><li><em>Boys ride their bicycles in Gaza.</em></li> <li><em>Overlooking Gaza.</em></li> <li><em>A farmer points out his land in the Access Restricted Area (ARA), overlooking Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza strip.</em></li> <li><em>Fishing off the coast of Gaza.</em></li> <li><em>Sunset on the beach, Gaza.</em></li> </ul><p> </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>10 years under blockade, every day life seems extraordinary in Gaza</h2></div> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:06:41 +0000 Alison Martin 66654 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-10-21-10-years-under-blockade-every-day-life-seems-extraordinary-gaza#comments A letter on Yemen to every editor http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-05-21-letter-yemen-every-editor <div class="field field-name-body"><p>It is deplorable that everybody has failed to extend what was a temporary ceasefire in Yemen. The conflict and the de facto blockade of the country has crippled its economy and put the lives of 26 million people at risk. Fuel supplies are exhausted, markets are running out of food, hospitals are without even basic medical supplies, power is intermittent and water networks are collapsing.</p> <p>Despite the broken ceasefire, which officially ended on Sunday, no progress has been made towards peace and fighting of a renewed intensity has begun again. Little is being done to stop the conflict. Nearly 2,000 Yemenis have been killed, over 7,000 injured – and this is likely to be well under estimated.</p> <p>We welcome the proposed Geneva peace talks possibly slated for the end of May, but without an immediate and permanent ceasefire Yemen will buckle under the pressure of war.</p> <p>Oxfam implores international governments to take action now before the Geneva peace talks. The Saudi Arabian led coalition should let vessels carrying essential supplies dock at Yemen’s ports; there should be a complete arms embargo to everyone involved in the conflict; and funding to help Yemenis access clean water, food and basic medical treatment must be increased.</p> <p>A humanitarian catastrophe has unfolded. Without concerted international pressure, Yemen could become another of the world’s failed states.</p> <p><em>- Grace Ommer, Oxfam Yemen Country Director, 21 May 2015</em></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en" xml:lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" xml:lang="en">400 civilian deaths 150,000 people displaced 10,000,000 going hungry Help change this: <a href="http://t.co/G4zlYJ1UBU">http://t.co/G4zlYJ1UBU</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Yemen?src=hash">#Yemen</a> <a href="http://t.co/0crUuLegvl">pic.twitter.com/0crUuLegvl</a></p> <p>— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) <a href="https://twitter.com/Oxfam/status/598770497061527552">May 14, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async="" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><em>Photo at top: Cars line up for gas at a petrol station amid fuel shortages in Sanaa, Yemen. Credt: Abo Haitham/Oxfam,  April 8, 2015</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><strong><a href="http://oxf.am/ZQFZ">Demand an end to the violence in Yemen</a></strong></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>A letter on Yemen to every editor</h2></div> Thu, 21 May 2015 16:03:00 +0000 Guest Blogger 26812 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-05-21-letter-yemen-every-editor#comments Conflict in Yemen: a deeply personal account http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-05-13-conflict-yemen-deeply-personal-account <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>Conflict in Yemen has forced thousands of people to flee their homes, including Oxfam staff.  It is pushing the country towards economic collapse and making life harder for 16 million people already in need of humanitarian aid. Here Oxfam program officer Bassim describes how the crisis has changed his life.</em></p> <p><strong>It is impossible not to worry</strong> about my country and the human suffering that the war has caused as I live and work through this awful period of Yemen’s history. That’s why I want to share my story. Latest figures tell us that over 640 people have been killed during the current crisis, including more than 300 civilians, and over 2,200 have been injured.</p> <p>As a result of the ongoing conflict, I was forced to move my wife and children from Sana’a to the countryside where I grew up. Relocating my family at a time when there is no fuel and no safe roads to travel by was an unbelievable tragedy for us. My children cried all the way and my wife was very afraid of the sudden changes in the midst of this ongoing war.</p> <p>Before the current crisis, over 60 percent of the population – 16 million people – were already in need of some form of aid. Now, people are facing even more drastic changes of fortune. People’s incomes have dropped dramatically.</p> <p><strong>My life has changed completely.</strong> In my village I have to try and find flour and other food to make sure there’s enough for my family’s needs, and fuel. It is a story I can see across the country. Even before the crisis, more than 10 million Yemenis did not have enough food to eat, including 850,000 malnourished children. In some areas we are even reaching emergency levels for acute malnutrition rates.</p> <p>So many things are different now. Clean water is a huge problem for us, as water systems have stopped because of the fuel crisis. Already, before the crisis over 13 million people didn’t have access to clean water, who knows how many don’t have access now.</p> <p>My children can’t go to school. My wife, like many other women, has to bear new and difficult responsibilities. Even simple tasks like cooking have become so much harder.</p> <p><strong>The changes we’re going through</strong> are really tough. I now have to work from home, trying to provide for my family at the same time – all the while thinking of my home in Sana’a and worrying that gangs will break in and steal from us while we’re gone.</p> <p>It is part of Yemeni tradition that I am responsible not only for my immediate family - my wife and sons - but also for my extended family, which has over 20 members. You can imagine how big a responsibility this is - and you can also imagine how my budget has been hit by increased prices of food and lack of essentials for me to buy.</p> <p>I hope we can go back to our home in Sana’a soon.</p> <h3>Oxfam in Yemen</h3> <ul><li>In the current conflict, Oxfam has already distributed cash to more 4,000 households (about 28,000 people) to help them buy basic necessities.</li> <li>It has also delivered water containers and filters to the Hodeidah area and is planning on delivering blankets and tents in the coming weeks.</li> <li>Oxfam is sending in trucks of clean water to vulnerable districts in Hodeidah.</li> <li>Oxfam plans to provide help to 80,000 people in the coming weeks, and build up to a total of about 1 million people, as access improves.</li> <li>Since 2011, Oxfam has provided assistance to nearly 600,000 people.</li> <li>Oxfam has been <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/countries/yemen" rel="nofollow">working in Yemen</a> for over 30 years.</li> </ul><p><em>This entry posted on 13 May 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Photo: People search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi airstrikes near Sanaa Airport, Yemen, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Credit: Abo Haitham/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://act.oxfam.org/international/en/actions/yemen-crisis" rel="nofollow">Help stop the violence in Yemen</a></strong></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/yemen/crisis-hoping-peaceful-end-nightmare" rel="nofollow">More personal accounts of people coping in Yemen's conflict</a></strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfam-reaction-announcement-five-day-humanitarian-pause-air-strikes-yemen" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam reaction to the announcement of the five-day humanitarian pause in air strikes in Yemen</strong></a> <em>(12 May 2015)</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Conflict in Yemen: a deeply personal account</h2></div> Wed, 13 May 2015 17:00:51 +0000 Guest Blogger 26695 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-05-13-conflict-yemen-deeply-personal-account#comments Living through the Gaza airstrikes http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-07-14-gaza-right-now <div class="field field-name-body"><p>People keep asking me how the situation in Gaza is right now, and I don't know how to begin describing it. Scary. Dangerous. Confusing. So many emotions. </p> <p><strong>The airstrikes happen everywhere, anytime, day and night.</strong> At night is the most difficult time. The bombing intensifies and I can feel it getting closer and closer. I'm exhausted but I try and force myself not to fall asleep... the explosions are even scarier when they wake you up.  I prefer to be awake when they strike. </p> <p>It's Ramadan, the holy month, and we should be celebrating. The "Iftar" meal - at sunset to break the day's fasting - is usually a huge family occasion. My brother's and sister's families would join us, or I'd go to the beach with friends. But this year we spend Iftar on our own, with<strong> the sound of explosions and ambulances</strong> in the background, phoning relatives to check they are safe. My nine year old niece - named Arwa after me - calls me first thing every morning for reassurance that things will be ok. People keep saying they will be, but you can tell they aren't sure. I call my friends every day and I'm terrified there will be bad news. </p> <p>During the day we try and work, as much as security allows. Today <strong>Oxfam has been distributing food vouchers</strong> to families who have had to flee their homes. The needs are growing by the hour - a water system for 70,000 people completely destroyed, a health clinic for pregnant women seriously damaged. <strong></strong></p> <p><strong>The violence goes on and civilians are the ones paying <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/18/father-children-gaza-bloodshed-palestinians-israelis" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">the highest price</a></strong>. I speak regularly with Oxfam's partners - engineers assessing the latest damage; hospitals struggling to cope with all the casualties and shortages of fuel; fishermen who have had their boats destroyed.</p> <p><em>Listen to Oxfam's Arwa Mhanna in Gaza on the struggle to observe Ramadan under siege:</em></p> <a href="https://audioboo.fm/boos/2334994-i-hope-everyone-will-be-able-to-spend-the-rest-of-ramadan-in-peace" rel="nofollow">listen to ‘"I hope everyone will be able to spend the rest of Ramadan in peace..."’ on Audioboo</a> <p>// </p> <h3>The news in Gaza is full of death and destruction</h3> <p>Often we're at home and it's too dangerous to go out -<strong> the streets are empty, shops are closed</strong>. Time goes so slowly at home... we are constantly watching the news for updates, full of children being killed and homes destroyed. Sometimes I want to turn the news off and watch something else - a drama, a comedy  - but I feel guilty. It's the World Cup and the cafes are usually full of men watching the<strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/video/2014/football-breaks-down-barriers-between-palestinian-syrian-and-jordanian-youth-refugee-camp" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> football</a></strong> - now it's too dangerous. </p> <p><strong>People in Gaza are very resilient.</strong> This is the third big military crisis we've been through in six years. I think of children like my niece and I don't want them to get used to this. My sister's children are so frightened. A bomb fell next door to their house, smashing all the windows. Fortunately they were sleeping in the living room because it has only one window, so nobody was hurt. Now they don't want to leave her side, even when she goes to the bathroom.</p> <blockquote><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Gaza?src=hash" rel="nofollow">#Gaza</a> The last hug from a Palestinian mother in Gaza to her son. <a href="http://t.co/iMs7RPb1lU" rel="nofollow">pic.twitter.com/iMs7RPb1lU</a></p> <p>— Arwa Mhanna (@ArwaMhanna) <a href="https://twitter.com/ArwaMhanna/statuses/489845565942145024" rel="nofollow">July 17, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <h3>Peace and justice for the future of our children</h3> <p>Even in between major military escalations, in the "calm" periods, there are still frequent airstrikes and <strong>the blockade continues to cripple our lives</strong>. It leaves people unable to get jobs, move freely or enjoy a normal life. People in Gaza want to live in peace and justice. We need a<strong> <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/beyond-ceasefire" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">long-term solution for Gaza</a></strong>, to give my niece and others the better future they deserve. </p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><strong>Read more about <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/opti" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Read Oxfam's 2012 report: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/beyond-ceasefire" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Beyond Ceasefire: Ending the blockade of Gaza</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Living through the Gaza airstrikes</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/14-07-15-la-gente-dice-que-todo-va-ir-bien-pero-sabes-que-no-tienen-esa-certeza" title="Desde Gaza: &quot;Aterradora. Peligrosa. Confusa&quot;" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> <li class="translation_fr last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/14-07-16-gaza-aujourdhui-peur-danger-et-confusion" title="Gaza aujourd&#039;hui : peur, danger et confusion" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:22:14 +0000 Arwa Mhanna 10724 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-07-14-gaza-right-now#comments Fishing without sea in Gaza http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/10-09-21-fishing-without-sea-gaza <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>Palestinian fishermen in Gaza need access to the sea, not imports of fish from Israel, reports Oxfam’s Catherine Weibel.</em></p> <p><strong>A huge boat rusting under the sun in the port of Rafah</strong> in southern Gaza looks like a beached whale. These days, it can only provide shade to its owner, Jamal Bassala, as he recalls how he used to go to sea with a dozen employees and make a good living. Because of the Israeli-enforced the blockade, which severely curtails Gazan fishermen’s access to fishing grounds, citing security reasons, the boat has not entered the water in three years.</p> .rimg300 { clear:right; float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px; width:300px; } .rimg300-caption { font-size:90%; } ol.notes &gt; li { margin-bottom:1em; font-style:italic; } <p><strong>Since January 2009, access was further restricted</strong> to 3 nautical miles from the shore <a href="#footnote-1" title="Note" rel="nofollow">[1]</a>, not far enough out to reach the schools of large fish and the sardine shoals which lie further out. Between 2008 and 2009, the total catch in Gaza decreased by 47% and sardine catches were down 72% <a href="#footnote-2" title="Note" rel="nofollow">[2]</a>. Gaza, a coastal enclave with skilled fishermen equipped with fishing boats, now has to rely on imports of fish from Israel <a href="#footnote-3" title="Note" rel="nofollow">[3]</a>, or from Egypt via the tunnels beneath the border. Some Palestinian fishermen even report crossing illegally into Egyptian waters to buy fish from Egyptian peers at sea.</p> <p><strong>“The blockade has created an absurd situation:</strong> skilled people who want to work have to rely on aid to feed their families”, says Fran Caller, Oxfam’s head of office in Gaza. “We have people who used to employ up to 20 workers asking to be part of our cash-for-work programmes. These programmes offer only a temporary, meagre income, yet these people – ex businessmen, independent fishermen, employers themselves – are desperate to join, despite the often manual labour that it entails. The blockade has made these people dependent on aid”, she adds.</p> Because of the blockade, fisherman Jamal Bassala can no longer make a living on his boat. He has to rely on aid to feed his family. <p>A few months ago, Jamal helped Oxfam build agricultural roads in Gaza. Now he’s repairing fishing nets as part of a programme administered by a UN agency. He does not know what he will do next month. “I used to buy one kilogram of meat every week for my 12 children, but since the beginning blockade I can only afford 250 grammes a week, provided I find work”, he says. Jamal can no longer afford to buy new clothes and resorts to repairing old ones with fishing thread. “Look, I’m grateful for all the help me and my family receive, but I would rather you take a picture of me working on my boat, like my father, grand father and great grand father used to do,” he adds.</p> <p><strong>“Skilled people yearning to work have to rely on aid to feed their families”</strong></p> <p>According to the ICRC, <strong>nearly 90% of Gaza's 4000 fishermen are now considered either poor or very poor</strong> <a href="#footnote-4" title="Note" rel="nofollow">[4]</a>, up from 50% in 2008. Fishing restrictions make it impossible for professional fishermen to make profitable catches and pay for the upkeep of their ships, many of which have fallen into disrepair. Paradoxically, many Palestinians in Gaza have begun to fish from small boats in shallow waters, because they cannot afford another source of protein for their families.</p> <p><strong>At night, the tiny lights of dozens of small boats</strong> are lined up along the dark line of the horizon. Occasionally, the powerful searchlight of an Israeli navy ship shines from behind to search the night and keep fishermen close to shore. One can sometimes hear the distant sound of fire as Israeli patrol boats have reportedly fired towards Palestinian fishing boats at least 69 times in the first seven months of 2010, and Egyptian forces have reportedly fired twice at Palestinian fishing boats this year. One fisherman was reportedly killed and three others injured by Israeli forces this year. In their struggle to make a living, many fishermen are compelled to sail close to the 3 nautical-mile limit; some fishermen report being arrested by Israeli forces who blindfolded them, and interrogated them before releasing them at the Erez crossing, confiscating their boats.</p> <p><strong>With access to the sea severely restricted, the future of fishermen looks bleak in Gaza.</strong></p> <h3>Read more:</h3> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/gaza" rel="nofollow">Crisis in Gaza</a></strong></p> <h3>Notes</h3> <ol><li>The previous fishing zone was 6-9 nm before 'Cast Lead', 12 nm under Bertini Commitments, and 20 nm under the Oslo Accords.<a href="#footnote-1-ref" title="Return to text" rel="nofollow">↩</a></li> <li>Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)<em>.</em><a href="#footnote-2-ref" title="Return to text" rel="nofollow">↩</a></li> <li>Since August 2009, imports of fresh fish from Israel have dramatically risen. 4 tons of fresh fish were imported in November 2008, 32 in October 2009 and 27 in March 2010<em>.</em><a href="#footnote-3-ref" title="Return to text" rel="nofollow">↩</a></li> <li>The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) considers that fishermen with a monthly income of between 100 and 190 US dollars are poor, while those earning less than 100 dollars a month are very poor. According to Oxfam’s partner, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), fishermen in Gaza used to economically support almost 40,000 people, including mechanics, fishmongers and thousands of local fishing families.<a href="#footnote-4-ref" title="Return to text" rel="nofollow">↩</a></li> </ol></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Fishing without sea in Gaza</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blog/10-09-20-pescando-sin-mar-en-gaza" title="Pescando sin mar en Gaza" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> <li class="translation_fr last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blog/10-09-21-pecheurs-gaza-prives-mer-par-blocus" title="Les pêcheurs de Gaza privés de mer par le blocus" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Tue, 21 Sep 2010 16:48:16 +0000 Catherine Weibel 9237 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/10-09-21-fishing-without-sea-gaza#comments