"It's Time to Put the People Before the Politics": UN Official Urges Action on Gaza

"Abandon the people, leave the people to despair and desperation, and that will make the politics more difficult going forward," says UNRWA Director John Ging.

Israel's siege of occupied Gaza, now approaching its third year, continues to impinge on every human right of the native Palestinian population. Gaza has no real economy due to Israel's blockade of everything from people, money, building materials and even a long list of food items from getting into the area. The effects of the siege are also heightened by Gaza's lack of necessary infrastructure, which Israel recently demolished during its December 2008 assault, which took the lives of over 1,400 people, a third of them women and children, in less than one month. At a recent press conference on Gaza at the United Nations in New York, Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees Operations in Gaza (UNRWA) John Ging, described Gaza's strangulated state, as he has many times before, with the aim of inspiring the international community to react with more than occasional condemnations of Israel. Ging also highlighted UNRWA's inability to provide education for thousands of hopeful Gazan children because UNRWA has not been able to build a school in the area for the past three years due to Israel's blockade on building materials.

According to Ging:

"We have no credibility with the population to tell them, as the United Nations, that we can’t do it. They expect us to find the way; to mobilize the support that is needed by whatever means and in whatever way to discharge our responsibility to the children."

Following a visit to Gaza last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commented that the recent developments that have taken place in Gaza where but a "drop in the bucket," or simply not enough considering the urgent necessity for real progress being made on a wider scale. Ging built on this categorization by noting that "a drop in the bucket is not a half-full glass," with even hope as a lifeline in Gaza quickly withering away, as water and sanitation prospects remain in a state of deteriorating collapse, and a lack of available fuel leaving people literally in the dark, without electricity for extended periods of time.

Ging also commented on Israel's recent slight "easing" of the blockade, where there was a slight increase in the amount of materials that were allowed into the area, noting that, while it was received well by the population, arguments made by the Israelis shortly after to excuse their siege undermine the positive effects.

"So, if we can have 20 truckloads of aluminum a month; then why not 50?  And if you can have 50, why not a 100?" he said.

Ging ended his remarks with a plea aimed at governing authorities and the international community to put the needs of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza before their own political objectives:

"It's time to put the people before the politics. If we do prioritize the people, and if we do focus on the needs of the people, in many of our views, that will make the politics easier moving forward. Ignore the people, abandon the people, leave the people to despair and desperation, and that will make the politics more difficult going forward."

Watch a video of Ging's remarkshere.

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