Continued fuel shortages in Gaza spark concern from senior UN official

Robert H. Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process

25 April 2008 – The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) said today that he remains extremely concerned about the severe humanitarian impact that the continuing fuel shortages in the Gaza Strip are having on the civilian population and on basic public services.

“The United Nations is heavily engaged with all parties to try to bring about a resolution of this crisis and see adequate supplies of fuel restored and distributed throughout Gaza,” Robert H. Serry said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

Israel stopped all fuel supplies to Gaza after Palestinian militants attacked the Nahal Oz terminal, located close to the border with Gaza, on 9 April. On Wednesday, it told the UN it was ready to deliver 100,000 litres of diesel, but fuel was not delivered yesterday, with Nahal Oz closed and the storage facilities on the Palestinian side of the border crossing full, according to the Israeli authorities.

The Gaza Petrol and Gas Station Owners Association informed the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) yesterday that it would distribute 50,000 litres of diesel to sustain the agency’s humanitarian operations, but this effort was thwarted by protests on the Palestinian side of the crossing.

UNRWA was able to make its food deliveries yesterday, but it will not be able to do so from tomorrow – the next scheduled delivery day – unless it receives fresh supplies of diesel.

“At this crucial juncture, all parties must act to avert further suffering of the civilian population,” Mr. Serry said in the statement. He called on Hamas, which controls Gaza, to ensure conditions to enable the distribution of supplies at Nahal Oz so that more supplies can enter Gaza.

“Hamas must immediately bring an end to attacks by itself or any other group against crossings in Gaza.”

The Special Coordinator also called on Israel to “restore adequate supplies of diesel and benzene for the civilian population of Gaza in accordance with international law.”

Last month, about 3.8 million litres of diesel fuel and 340,000 litres of benzene were transferred from Israel into Gaza, which Mr. Serry said was not enough to meet the requirements of Gaza, which is home to an estimated 1.4 million inhabitants. In March last year, more than 8.8 million litres of diesel fuel and 1.7 million litres of benzene were supplied.


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