Geneva_(dpa) _ The number of people requiring food aid has risen sharply in the Gaza Strip since the closure of the main Karni border crossing point in June, according to figures published Friday by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Geneva.A study carried out last month by the WFP showed the number of people it was helping had risen 20 per cent to 302,000 from 252,000.

Combined with refugees receiving assistance through the UN agency UNRWA, it meant more than 1 million people, or almost three quarters of the population, were now dependant on food aid, WFP spokeswoman Christian Berthiaume said.

The UN has repeatedly urged the Israelis to reopen the Karni border post which they closed after Hamas seized power in Gaza.

WFP said 70 per cent of the population was surviving on less than 250 dollars a month.

Food prices have risen significantly with households now spending 60 per cent of their budgets on food, compared with 38 per cent before June.

The WFP has increased its appeal for funds from 107 million dollars to 141 million.

So far 45 million dollars had been donated, but without further offers soon, the agency would be forced to begin cutting back its operations from March. dpa hl wjh

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