Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PCHR: Narratives Under Siege #7 - Abu Alkass Mini-Market, Gaza city

From the Palestinian Center for Human Rights:
The Abu-Alkass mini-market has been a popular feature of central Gaza city for more than thirty years. Anwar Abu-Alkass has worked here since he was a teenager, and now manages the mini-market with his brother. "We used to have a lot of fresh goods on sale, but now the majority of our goods are dry products" he explains, as we wander round the mini-market aisles. "Every business has been affected by the closure – we used to sell lots of fresh milk and different kinds of cheese – but now we are forced to depend on two Israeli companies for our dairy imports. Their products are expensive for us, but we have no choice."

During the six months since the siege and closure were tightened, food prices have spiralled across the Gaza Strip, and increasing numbers of families are now facing chronic food insecurity. 73% of the population of the Gaza Strip is now at least partially dependent on humanitarian food aid, making Gaza once of the most aid dependent communities in the world. The World Food Programme (WFP) recently expanded the number of people it is assisting across Gaza by an additional fifty thousand people. It is now providing food assistance to 300,000 civilians in the Gaza Strip. All food donors are facing logistical problems in securing the volume of humanitarian aid rations they need to distribute, also due to the closure.

Anwar Abu-Alkass says local food prices have also been forced up because retailers now have to pay heavier costs to try and secure goods that used to be easily available. "I send a truck to Rafah every day to buy whatever is coming through the border" he says. Though the southern Rafah border with Egypt is now officially closed for business, goods are still being brought across into Gaza, and with the other seven crossings into Gaza effectively sealed, many retailers depend on the trade from Rafah to keep their shops stocked.
Read the entire report here >