Years of blockade and political conflict have strangled economic development and increased poverty in Gaza. Around 1.8 million people face a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Unemployment and a shattered economy

In the over-crowded Gaza Strip, one in three working-age people are now unemployed. The construction industry has shrank by 15 per cent, and whilst Gazans were once allowed to fish up to 20 nautical miles – now, they can only travel up to three.

Around 80 per cent of people require governmental or humanitarian assistance to survive, and in one year food insecurity has increased by seven per cent. Around 540,000 people cannot afford to buy the food that they need.

Restrictions and delays at three main crossings have mean that goods and humanitarian supplies entering Gaza have dwindled to an average of 112 truckloads a day (compared to 583 in 2007). Exports are now totally banned.

Baby in incubator in Gaza

A baby lies in an incubator in a Gaza hospital.

Healthcare shortages

Thirty per cent of the essential drugs list, and 51 per cent of the essential medical disposables list is unavailable in Gaza. Surgical operations are now restricted to urgent and acute cases only, as specialised surgeons can no longer enter via the currently unstable Rafah crossing from Egypt, which is also the only route to the rest of the world for most Gazans. Around 1,000 patients in need of medical intervention in Egypt are presently at risk.

Unsafe water, fuel and electricity crises

More than 90 per cent of the water extracted from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption.

Crossing restrictions have led to a very limited fuel supply, with no fuel stock to power standby generators at 288 water and sanitation facilities. Around 90,000 m3 of untreated sewage is being released every day into the sea, and rubbish is building up in towns and cities as waste collection vehicles are being impacted by the shortage of fuel.

Gazans have 35 per cent less electricity than they need, with all-day powercuts increasingly common as the Strip implements an eight hours on / eight hours off policy.

Islamic Relief has been working in Gaza for almost 20 years – providing vital humanitarian assistance including food distribution, medical relief, orphan sponsorship and emergency response.