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Two-thirds of Gaza without power

Ma'an News

10gaza-87363_345x230.jpg

Palestinian children stand in front of a fenced gate leading to the Erez crossing, northern Gaza Strip, calling for an end to Israel's siege on 14 March 2010. [MaanImages/Hatem Omar]


April 10, 2010

Gaza Ma'an The sole power generator in the Gaza Strip has completely closed down, the head of the electric company announced Saturday, following a day of unheeded warnings that a humanitarian crisis was at hand.

Walid Sa'd Sayel, who also heads the Gaza power plant's board of directors, appealed to Arab, international, and Palestinian officials to urgently find a solution to the crisis, which has left two-thirds of the coastal enclave without electricity.

In a statement, Sayel termed the energy crisis "catastrophic," insisting that relevant authorities "rescue the Gazans, who are human beings first and foremost, and they rely on power as much as they need water and air. Without action, we face a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented scale."

Shortages have plagued the power plant since December 2009, when European Union officials handed over responsibility for fuel transfers to the Palestinian Authority, apparently at the PA's request so EU aid could be channeled into civil servant salaries. Ever since the handover, as well as the corresponding closure of the main fuel transfer terminal at Nahal Oz, fuel imports have fallen to 50 percent of recent capacity.

United Nations records show current imports represent just 46 percent of the estimated demand.

In its most recent report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs listed imports for the last week of March as below half of the weekly fuel needed to fully operate the power plant. Imports have been below need since the Israeli-led siege of Gaza began in 2007, according to the UN report.






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