The Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) warns against violating the basic rights of the Palestinians, especially the right to food, as stipulated in article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right to food is essential to a dignified life and vital for reaching many other rights, such as the right to health and life. Frequently, PNGO and other actors warned the deteriorating economic conditions, poverty and food insecurity to unprecedented levels.
Statistics and reports indicate that two-thirds of Palestinian households in the Gaza Strip (68% – about 1.3 million) suffer from acute or moderate food insecurity as a result of protracted and successive crises in the Gaza Strip; thirteen years of Israeli blockade and political division that have affected all aspects of life, and the consecutive military attacks of the Israeli occupation against civilians, properties and livelihoods.
Most of our people in the Gaza Strip suffer abject poverty and limited economic ability to afford food, which is considering the main cause to the food insecurity. The Gaza Strip’s economy is in declining sharply. It has decreased by 6% in 2018, more than half of the population are below the poverty line, the unemployment rate reached 52% and more than 70% among youth. A recent study revealed that more than 70% of the surveyed families in the Gaza Strip are reducing the number of meals to cope with food shortages or lack of resources.
The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has turned productive groups into vulnerable and needy of humanitarian assistance. Due to the blockade, preventing the entry of raw materials and export and energy shortages, Palestinian farmers, fishermen, workers and merchants, all have difficulty in securing food for themselves and their families, thus doubling the number of food-insecure groups.
Moreover, the economic and social vulnerability of Gazans has increased as a result of the Palestinian Authority employees’ salary crisis; where salary deductions reached more than half of the salary. This has resulted negatively their ability to provide the basic needs of their families. The lack of subsides provided to the most vulnerable by the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development has further aggravate the level of food insecurity.
In light of this difficult economic and social situation, more than 1 million Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip depend on food aid from UNRWA, which faces a major funding crisis as a result of the US decision to stop its funding almost a year and a half ago. UNRWA warned that unless an additional US$ 60 million are secured by June, their ability to continue providing food will be affected.
The Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Jamie McGoldrick warned of the “very serious situation” according to his description which may leads to cease the food aid support from the World Food Program and UNRWA due to lack of funding, threatening the lives of Gaza residents and their ability to provide the necessary food. Not to mention the challenges and lack funding faced by Palestinian civil society organizations that weaken their ability to provide various assistance and food support to vulnerable groups.
And the situation is exacerbated by the decline of funds allocated for humanitarian assistance in Palestine, especially food aid, where only 15% of the needs of the food security sector were funded within the Humanitarian Response Plan in Palestine for 2019.
Therefore, PNGO Network calls upon all parties to stand up to their responsibilities to protect the economic and social rights of the Palestinians and to ensure the food security of the people of the Gaza Strip;
– the international community to provide the emergency humanitarian assistance as soon as possible to ensure the provision of food support to vulnerable groups, and provide the necessary funding for the implementation of humanitarian and development programs to improve the food security of the Palestinians.
– empower the Palestinians to have sovereignty over their food
– the international community to Provide the necessary support and funding to ensure that WFP and UNRWA continue to provide basic services and food assistance to the people of the Gaza Strip.
– the international community to put real pressure for ending the Israeli occupation and lift the Israeli blockage imposed on the Gaza Strip, and enable the Palestinian citizen to access the sources of food.
– the Palestinian Authority to restore all employees’ salaries fully without deduction.