Shipwreck remains. Surviving the Gaza blockade
In November 2011 the sea washed up a cauliflower to this Palestinian lad from the refugee camp at Al Chatila, the first one set up in the Gaza strip, as a result of the Nakba (the disaster in Arabic), in 1948. He belongs to a fourth generation of Palestinians who have seen how the cost and fields of Gaza gradually narrowed as did their own life prospects. At the end of 2017, 85% of the population of Gaza (1.2 million people), depend on humanitarian aid to meet basic needs; in the year 2000 the figure was 100,000. In this context, thinking in terms of sustainable development means –as in all Palestine- the end of Israeli occupation and the return of refugees to their homes.
The United Nations (UN) has warned that by 2020 Gaza will be uninhabitable due to lack of resources for survival. Environmental pollution and untreated sewage have finished off the limited fishing resources in the five mile area where they are allowed to fish. Less than four hours of electricity a day cannot guarantee the functioning of any infrastructure, making water treatment impossible (90% of water is not fit for human consumption). The medical services, under collapse, depend almost completely on UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees), whose budget gets scantier every year. In the midst of this morass, a positive fact because that lad has certainly had access to a decent education: Palestine boasts a literacy index of 96%, one of the highest on the planet. Although he will most probably be out of work (youth unemployment is over 70%). And what is patently clear is that he has never been able to leave the Gaza strip. The blockade of the Gaza strip by air, land and sea had lasted 10 years in June 2017.
Luz Gómez, Arabist, coordinator of the Research Group for Arab ideologies and cultural expression at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid