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GENEVA, September 23. /ITAR-TASS/. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Tuesday that it increased initial budget intended for the relief of the humanitarian catastrophe in the embattled Gaza Strip by 70% to a total of 73.3 million Swiss francs (some $80.2 million).
The announcement was made after Robert Mardini, the head of operations for the Near and Middle East at the ICRC, completed his mission to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and reported upon his return that "after 52 days of conflict, the Gaza Strip is a shambles.”
"The current humanitarian situation has to be viewed in the wider context of ongoing occupation, eight years of closure and heavy restrictions on the movement of goods and people, three conflicts occurring within just six years, and an already fragile infrastructure," Mardini said.
According to the ICRC official website, the latest armed conflict inflicted great damage on the Gaza Strip and “generated significant needs”.
“Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in utter destitution, and thousands of houses and other structures have been entirely or partially destroyed,” the ICRC said. “The water network and electrical installations have been severely damaged. The medical sector has been stretched to its limits and hospitals have been hit by shelling or other munitions.”
“Some 40 per cent of agricultural lands have been rendered fallow and crops destroyed. Around 60% of the people in Gaza under 18 years of age are severely traumatized, while the risks posed by unexploded and abandoned ordnance are life-threatening,” the ICRC said.
The organization said that in order to relief the need, the ICRC would allocate additional financial, material and human resources, as well as organize coordination with the local authorities and partners on its combined emergency action with medium- and long-term projects.
"The civilian casualty toll and the extent of destruction are worse than any the area has witnessed in recent years," Mardini said. "This indicates that violations of international humanitarian law have occurred, despite our constant reminders to all parties to the conflict of their obligations with regard to the protection of civilians and civilian property."