JULY 2, 2013 BY

Director of UNRWA Operations Turner: - Gaza siege is illegal

JERUSALEM – Robert Turner, Director for UNRWA Operations in Gaza, considered that the Gaza blockade is illegal and represents a collective punishment against 1.5 million Palestinians living in harsh conditions.

Turner demanded the international community to work on lifting the blockade as soon as possible, and called for supporting the UNRWA to develop its services in the various fields.

He said during a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday: “The UNRWA has defined today its vision to face the problems encountered in the Gaza Strip.”

He added that the agency in collaboration with the Government of Japan, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will undertake a study exploring ways in which it can exploit renewable energy in Gaza through a variety of interventions, such as the installation of solar panels on its facilities.

“Along with reducing its overall energy needs, and thus reducing electricity demand in Gaza, UNRWA will also work to support the expansion of the solar industry by training technicians and outsourcing installation and maintenance to the private sector.”

Turner said the number of refugee population in Gaza will increase by 400 thousand by the year 2020, which will put an immense strain on the infrastructure and social services of this over-burdened society.

UNRWA also plans to support Gaza’s access to water, through constructing desalination facilities. It is discussing with donors the possibility of improving access to water by installing small-scale desalination plants, as well as projects to recharge the aquifer.

According to Director for UNRWA Operations, the agency will improve environmental health, through the expansion of recycling capacity in Gaza and will provide an alternative to the 7,000 MT of solid waste from the eight UNRWA refugee camps in Gaza currently dumped in landfills each month.

“UNRWA will also support the expansion of the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector, a sector that has real growth potential, despite the blockade, as it is not limited by restrictions in the physical movement of people and goods.”

Tuner called on the international community to support the UNRWA to continue to provide its services in the different fields as education, health, food security, decent housing, environmental health and social protection.