Warning over conditions in Gaza due to "soaring" temperatures

The UN says there is an increasingly dire situation

Warning over conditions in Gaza due to "soaring" temperatures

Children look out from a window at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Collective Centre in Gaza in October 2014 | Image: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The United Nations has expressed concern over the "steady deterioration" in humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

A spokesperson for its High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein issued a statement in Geneva, in which he also mentioned concern for the protection of human rights.

"At the height of summer, with soaring temperatures, electricity provision has not risen above six hours per day since the beginning of the current crisis in April, and has often been under four hours.

"This has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services.

"Power outages threaten the life and well-being of vulnerable groups, particularly those needing urgent medical care."

He says the UN has observed "an increasingly dire situation" for the men, women and children of Gaza amid a deepening economic crisis.

He says this is coupled with continuing restrictions on movement and freedom of expression.

"The desperate situation has also contributed to violent crime, domestic violence, including femicides, and attempted suicides, although exact data is hard to obtain," the statement adds.

Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein speaks to correspondents following a closed meeting of the Security Council on situation in the Middle East in April 2013 | Image: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Commissioner Hussein says Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza are not meeting their obligations to promote and protect the rights of the residents of Gaza.

"Israel, as the occupying power, has responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure the well-being of the population.

"Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza also have clear concurrent human rights obligations towards the Palestinians in Gaza.

"The Israeli blockade and closure continue to disproportionately affect the civilian population and must be lifted."

He says recent measures to decrease the provision of electricity, to cut salaries and order early retirement of civil servants in Gaza, are having a direct, negative impact on the social and economic rights of Gazans.

"The lack of transparency in the use of resources, and the continuing suppression of freedom of speech and assembly by the authorities raise further concerns for the protection of fundamental rights of the population in the Gaza Strip."

The UN is urging Israel to uphold the human rights of the population in Gaza.

It is also calling on the international community to respond to an urgent appeal for humanitarian aid.

Just last month, Ireland signed an agreement to join a humanitarian consortium supporting vulnerable Palestinian communities.

Funding of €200,000 is to be provided in 2017.