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Gaza hospitals to reopen after $2 million UAE grant

Beds lie empty at Beit Hanun hospital in the Gaza Strip after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018 blaming a lack of fuel to power generators
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza for a decade which it says is necessary to isolate Hamas

Nearly 20 medical centres in Gaza will fully reopen in the coming days after the United Arab Emirates provided $2 million in financing to end a severe fuel shortage, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Three hospitals and 16 medical centres had stopped offering key services in recent weeks as crippling fuel shortages meant they were unable to keep generators going, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said.

Gaza receives only a few hours of mains electricity a day, so hospitals and other vital services rely on private generators run with fuel provided by the United Nations.

“Emergency for critical facilities in Gaza will become exhausted within the next ten days,” the UN warned in a statement on Tuesday, calling for urgent donor support “to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe driven by the energy crisis.” Responding to the appeal, the UAE pledged the $2 million for the coming year, Mahmoud Dahar, head of WHO said.

Abu Dhabi said that the donation to Gaza was announced in a meeting between the country’s Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, according to the Times of Israel.

The ministry said it was awaiting official confirmation of the UAE funds and did not say when the centers would return to normal operations.

Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of Gaza for a decade which it says is necessary to isolate the territory's Islamist leaders Hamas. Critics say it represents collective punishment of two million people, who only have access to a few hours of power per day.

At current electricity rates, the hospital needs 500 liters of fuel daily to operate a generator and keep services open, Qudra added. This has been exacerbated by the cold weather which has lead to a spike in demand.

More than two-thirds of Gazans rely on international aid.

Separately on Thursday Egypt, which has also largely sealed its border with Gaza, opened the Rafah crossing for the first time in 2018. It is to remain open for three days.

US President Donald Trump has also withheld tens of millions in aid for the UN agency providing support for the Palestinians in recent weeks

On Thursday, AIDA, a coalition of 70 international charities working in the Palestinian territories, said that decision would particularly affect Gaza.

It said the funding cuts "will lead to increased food insecurity, aid dependency, poverty, isolation, unemployment and hopelessness.”



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