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08 JUL 2015

One year on, a generation in Gaza faces a bleak future under blockade

One year on from the 2014 Gaza conflict, most people's lives have not improved. Little has been done to prevent another conflict or ensure development to reverse Gaza's economic collapse.

Despite last year's temporary ceasefire, violence against civilians has continued. More than 100 Palestinian rockets have been fired towards Israel, and more than 700 incidents of Israeli fire into Gaza have been recorded in the same period.

The conflict dealt a blow to Gaza's economy, which has been battered by eight years of the Israeli blockade, as it restricts people and goods from leaving, and essential construction material from entering. It has also cut Palestinian farmers off from up to a third of Gaza’s fertile farmland and prevented fishermen from making a living. The economy is increasingly reliant on international aid, on which 80 per cent of people in Gaza now depend.

The World Bank recently estimated a cost of US$3.9 billion to Gaza's current GDP because of the Israeli government’s enforced separation of Gaza from the West Bank. Unemployment in Gaza has also risen to the highest in the world, with 43.9 per cent of people without work.

More than 100,000 people are still displaced, and it is estimated that it will take more than 70 years to build the homes Gaza needs. While some repairs to damaged buildings have been made, not one of the 19,000 homes that were completely destroyed has yet been rebuilt. Twenty schools and kindergartens that were destroyed are still in rubble, as well as hospitals, clinics and other essential infrastructure. Palestinian political factions also need to work together to ensure reconstruction.

‘Gaza needs urgent rebuilding, but its people also need to be able to move and trade, and to have jobs in a functioning economy. Long term peace will require economic development and ensuring people's basic rights, which can only come through an end to the blockade,’ said Catherine Essoyan, Oxfam's Regional Manager.

Over the past year, Oxfam and its partners have worked to meet the needs of those affected by the conflict. It has provided assistance to around 700,000 people throughout Gaza, distributed emergency vouchers to help more than 50,000 families buy food, provided safe water and sanitation to 300,000 people, and supported health centres and mobile clinics for nearly 80,000 people.