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Oxfam warns of 'catastrophe' if blockade remains

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-18

The humanitarian organisation Oxfam has urged world leaders to "step up and excercise all their political might to break the blockade of Gaza," warning of an impending catastrophe for civilians in the Palestinian territory.

Oxfam warned Friday that Gaza faces a humanitarian catastrophe unless Israel's blockade is lifted.

The British-based aid agency urged world leaders to exert pressure on Israel to secure an end to the blockade and also called for a truce agreed in June to be maintained.

"World leaders must step up and exercise all their political might to break the blockade of Gaza," Oxfam's executive director Jeremy Hobbs said.

"As a matter of humanitarian imperative, Israeli leaders must resume supplies into Gaza without further delay.

"If Israelis and Palestinians alike don't exert every effort now to maintain the truce which has held since last June, the result could be catastrophic for civilians both in Gaza and in nearby Israeli towns," he said.

Hobbs warned that if the international community fails to act decisively it "will only exacerbate human suffering and could further endanger chances for peace."

Oxfam joined the United Nations, European Union and Amnesty International in appealing to Israel to allow in food convoys and to resume supplies of fuel.

Israel imposed a blockade of Gaza after the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the territory in June 2007.

A ceasefire in and around the territory went into effect on June 19, but Israel has tightened the territory's closure after rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Date created : 2008-11-15