John Holmes, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs at the UN visited Gaza on Friday and called for reopening the borders in the Gaza Strip in order to relief the suffering of the residents. Yet he refused to meet families of detainees imprisoned by Israel. The closure, which was fully enforced after Hamas movement took over the coastal region last June, crippled that Gaza Strip, its hospitals and facilities and raised unemployment and poverty rates up to 80%, and now those residents became dependent on food aid.
Talking to reporters in Gaza, Holmes said that these conditions are creating a grim situation and that the people became unable to live with the basic dignity there are entitled.
He also toured in hospitals in Gaza and spoke with some patients who need dialysis while inspecting the neonatal until. He also visited the industrial zone in Gaza which is now neutral after it once employed 1800 Palestinians.
This is the first official visit that Holmes conducted as part of his four-day visit which will include a stop in the Israeli Negev town of Sderot.
His visit to Gaza started by visiting Al Shifa Hospital and the administrators there informed him that the hospital is on the verge of a possible collapse as it is run now by electricity generators as fuel remains unavailable.
They also said that the hospital needs spare parts of medical machines, such as dialysis machines in addition to basic medications.
Holmes expressed “shock” over the conditions in Gaza and over what he observed during his visit.
Meanwhile, the Wa’ed Society for defending the rights of the detainees, slammed Holmes for refusing to meet mothers and families of Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel.
The society stated that it expected this senior official of humanitarian affairs at the UN to meet the families and listen to their complaints.
The Wa’ed Society that it handed flowers to the sons of the detainees and asked them to welcome Holmes during his visit but he refrained from meeting them.
Holmes also canceled a press conference which was supposed to be conducted at the headquarters of Ramattan News Agency in Gaza, and went instead to the UNRWA headquarters.
The Wa’ed Society said that Holmes’ rejection to meet hose families and children is a deviation from the neutral role of the UN, and demanded him to apologize to the families and to the Palestinian people.