The United Nations Wednesday expressed concern over the ongoing power crisis in the Gaza Strip and called for reforms in the operation of its electricity company and methods of revenue collection.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said he was “following with great concern the tense situation in Gaza” caused by the shutdown of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant following shortage of fuel supply thus leading to longer hours of blackouts.
“Reform of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) is essential to improve revenue collection and transparency in line with international standards,” said Mladenov. “The de facto authorities in Gaza must ensure that collection rates are improved and that revenue collected in Gaza is returned to the legitimate Palestinian authorities in order to keep fuel and electricity supply flowing. All in Gaza must share the burden by paying their bills. It is the poorest Palestinians in Gaza who pay the price for exceptions and privileges that others enjoy.”
The UN official said the reforms should be accompanied by upgrading the power grid in Gaza, including the power lines bringing electricity from Egypt in order to reduce electricity losses.
He suggested that the upgrading should be financed and supported by the international community as the Palestinian government facilitates the purchase of fuel for the Gaza power plant under conditions that temporarily alleviate or substantially reduce relevant fuel taxes.
“Israel also has a significant responsibility to assist by facilitating the entry of materials for repairs and maintenance of the grid and power plant. Egyptian power lines to Gaza also need to be repaired and upgraded,” he said.
“The social, economic and political consequences of this impending energy crisis should not be underestimated. Palestinians in Gaza, who live in a protracted humanitarian crisis, can no longer be held hostage by disagreements, divisions and closures,” said Mladenov, calling “on all parties, including the international community, to come together and ensure this vital issue of energy for Gaza is resolved once and for all. The United Nations stands ready to provide its support in achieving this vital goal.”