Saturday, November 15, 2008

Red Cross report says: Israeli siege on Gaza causes chronic malnutrition and "dramatic fall in living standards"

"Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed on Israel:

[Click on photo to enlarge it.]

"Donald Macintyre reveals the contents of an explosive report by the Red Cross on a humanitarian tragedy"


Saturday, 15 November 2008

On the Web at:

"The Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in the strip, according to a leaked report from the Red Cross.

"It chronicles the 'devastating' effect of the siege that Israel imposed after Hamas seized control in June 2007 and notes that the dramatic fall in living standards has triggered a shift in diet that will damage the long-term health of those living in Gaza and has led to alarming deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D.

"The 46-page report from the International Committee of the Red Cross – seen by The Independent – is the most authoritative yet on the impact that Israel's closure of crossings to commercial goods has had on Gazan families and their diets.

"The report says the heavy restrictions on all major sectors of Gaza's economy, compounded by a cost of living increase of at least 40 per cent, is causing 'progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza's population'. That in turn is forcing people to cut household expenditures down to 'survival levels'.

" 'Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern,' it said.

Since last year, the report found, there had been a switch to 'low cost/high energy' cereals, sugar and oil, away from higher-cost animal products and fresh fruit and vegetables. Such a shift 'increases exposure to micronutrient deficiencies which in turn will affect their health and wellbeing in the long term....'

"...The Red Cross report says that 'the embargo has had a devastating effect for a large proportion of households who have had to make major changes on the composition of their food basket.' Households were now obtaining 80 per cent of their calories from cereals, sugar and oil.

" 'The actual food basket is considered to be insufficient from a nutritional perspective.' The report paints a bleak picture of an increasingly impoverished and indebted lower-income population. People are selling assets, slashing the quality and quantity of meals, cutting back on clothing and children's education, scavenging for discarded materials – and even grass for animal fodder – that they can sell and are depending on dwindling loans and handouts from slightly better-off relatives.

"In the urban sector, in which about 106,000 employees lost their jobs after the June 2007 shutdown, about 40 per cent are now classified as 'very poor', earning less than 500 shekels (£87) a month to provide for an average household of seven to nine people..."