UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed in an interview at the World Economic Forum for the international community to contribute aid for food, water, sanitation, shelter, infrastructure support, and health care for Gaza:
“As you know, I recently visited Gaza. The civilian population has suffered greatly during three weeks of military operations. More than a third of the 6,600 dead and injured were children and women. As a father of three, I was especially troubled by their suffering and the psychological trauma so many families went through.
Help is indeed needed urgently: food, clean water, shelter, medicine, restoration of basic services. Everywhere I went, I saw the evidence of critical humanitarian needs. The population were already vulnerable because of so many months of severely restricted supplies. That is why the Humanitarian Flash Appeal for Gaza that we are announcing today is so timely and so important. With the help of this $ 613 million appeal, the United Nations and other aid agencies can jump into action to help the 1.4 million civilians in the Gaza Strip to recover.”
The emphasis on psychological trauma is particularly interesting, especially considering the civilian devastation, destruction of schools and the 2,267 children who were injured or killed in the conflict. Psychological trauma in post conflict situations does not solely affect children. Men in Gaza also face long term psychological trauma following the violence and lack of opportunity.
In the light of the World Economic Forum and the global economic crisis, perhaps the largest long term threat to human rights and humanitarian aid is economic:
“The systemic and perpetual economic hindrances imposed upon the Palestinian economy by the Israeli occupation are viewed by most experts to be the primary impediment to allowing the Palestinian economy to reach its full potential. The World Bank has identified three principal “paralytic effects” of Israeli policies on the Palestinian economy: access to economies of scale, access to natural resources and access to an investment horizon. It also cited physical impediments — road blocks, closures, earth mounds and the ongoing construction of the wall on West Bank land […] — as a ‘paralysis confronting the Palestinian economy’.”
The paralysis, as UN humanitarian chief John Holmes suggests, is on the border:
“Unless all of them [border crossings] are effectively opened, we’re never going to be able to get enough supplies to Gaza.”