• UN: Gaza violence halting food production

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    MOSCOW: The conflict in Gaza has forced local farmers and herders to leave their lands and has disrupted fishing activities, possibly leading to an overall halt in food production in the area, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a statement.

    “Under the most recent ceasefire many farmers and herders are now able to access their lands however resumption of food production faces serious obstacles given the damages sustained and shortages of water, electricity, inputs and financial resources as well as ongoing uncertainty regarding the possible resumption of military activities,” Ciro Fiorillo, head of FAO’s office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said Thursday.

    The fighting has damaged 17,000 hectares of Gaza croplands, including greenhouses, irrigation systems, animal farms, fodder stocks and fishing boats, FAO reported.

    The latest update by the FAO/World Food Programme (WFP)-coordinated Food Security Sector (FSS) revealed Gaza has lost half of its poultry due to direct shelter hits, lack of water, feed or care. Nearly 64,000 ruminants require animal feed and water to prevent additional animal deaths.

    Gaza’s fishing sector has lost an equivalent to 9.3 percent of local fishers’ yearly catch from July 9 to August 10.

    FAO reported that nearly the whole population of Gaza, 1.8 million people, is currently reliant on food aid. Upward price spikes have ranged from a 40 percent increase in the price of eggs to a 179 percent spike in the price of tomatoes.

    “We have a programme that supports the resilience of agriculture-based livelihoods of Gaza fishermen, herders and farmers,” Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa, said.

    “We need to get this back on track as soon as hostilities cease, to promote not just survival of Gaza’s people but their self-reliant development,” he added.

    FAO, with the support of Canada, has plans to distribute fodder to feed 55,000 small ruminants in Gaza for 45 days once a permanent ceasefire is established in the area. Plans also include the distribution of 4,000 1-cubic meter water tanks.

    The Gaza conflict has so far caused about 1,900 Palestinian deaths, the majority being civilians. At least 67 people have been killed, mostly soldiers, on the Israeli side, according to the United Nations. PNA

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