Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

“Rubbish is our life.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Regardless of the nuances of international debates, I think all sides can agree it sucks to live in Gaza.

Remeber the sewage floods a couple years ago?  Or that story about the Red Cross having so much trouble bringing contstruction materials into the area that they turned to recycling rubble?

Ever-resourceful, the people of Gaza are no strangers to recycling, reusing and selling scrap.  The Arab Times reports that since the latest violence, Gazans are increasingly turning to trash picking for much needed cash.

Shaaban, 27, walks by, his head down looking for a bottle or better still a container that he could sell on.

‘I used to work in construction before. But since I was wounded, my hand has been paralysed,’ says the father of three, showing a large scar on the arm from the Hamas-Fatah battle of 2007.

Today he relies on UN handouts, including several kilos of rice and flour every three months.

‘It’s nowhere near enough,’ he says.

‘Rubbish is our life. You might as well say we don’t have a life.’

Recycling rubble

Friday, December 5, 2008
Photo of the demolition of  a similar wall in Gaza by Khalil Hamra/AP, ripped from

Photo of the demolition of a similar wall in Gaza by Khalil Hamra/AP, ripped from

The Red Cross will use the rubble of a wall knocked down by fighters in Gaza to line and complete a long-delayed rainwater ditch project, according to an article in the International Herald Tribune today.  Apparently, construction materials are  so hard to clear through the Israeli and Egyptian borders during these tense times that even international development agencies are suffering and, according to the article, forced to scrounge and scavenge like everyday Gazans.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been trying to make do by scouring Gaza for materials it can use. It’s a survival technique perfected by ordinary Gazans, who use vegetable oil for car fuel when gasoline is in tight supply and ancient kerosene stoves when natural gas runs out. Gazans dig tunnels into Egypt to haul in everything from chocolate to computers.

The situation has gotten so bad that the Red Cross, a Swiss and otherwise neutral organization, issued a frustrated statement saying that the Israeli government holds up deliveries so long that this project would not have been completed had it not been for salvaged materials.

Like many aspects of the Middle East conflict, this story is a messy mix of uplifting and heartbreaking.  It is wonderful to read about resourcefulness in the face of conflict and terrible to read about politics standing in the way people’s basic needs for infrastructure and security.

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