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Response to the pandemic is failing Gazans who are slipping back into extreme poverty

17-09-2020

A 40-year-old former carpenter from Gaza City spoke to Al Mezan on condition of anonymity about the pandemic’s severe impact on his family’s life: 

 

"I live with my family of six on al-Mukhabarat Street in Gaza City. I lost my carpentry and upholstery shop to fire in 2005 and have been living in debt since then. Actually, I owe about $47,000 in overdue installments and payments to merchants and wood suppliers.   

 

Shortly after I lost my only source of income in the fire, Israel launched its blockade on the Gaza Strip, leading to restrictions on importing material and machinery. The economic devastation that followed it imperiled many craft jobs like mine. I couldn’t renovate my carpentry as planned, and had to work for a daily wage that was barely enough to meet my family’s basic needs at a friend’s carpentry, instead. 

 

The Israeli closure worsened and things went downhill from there. Carpentries across the Gaza Strip closed down due to a severe shortage of wood supply. My five brothers and I found ourselves in a position where we had to share a small street restaurant business. The revenues were anything but sufficient, so I had to put the remaining carpentry tools and equipment I had into use and start my own workshop. I accepted every order I received no matter how cheap it was. I had no other choice.

 

My brothers’ families and mine are once again hit by another crisis as the Ministry of Interior imposed the pandemic-induced curfew on 24 August 2020. All businesses, and notably street restaurants, were ordered to shut down, leaving us without any source of income. Three weeks into the lockdown, we have used up all the stored restaurant food.  We had been struggling to make ends meet even before the pandemic started, so now I just don’t know what to do. We are heavily indebted to the nearby grocery store to the point that the owner won’t let us shop there anymore.   

 

My heart is aching talking to you about all of this. It’s a sad reality we live in. I can’t say much more, but I call on all competent authorities to support those who lost their means of subsistence due to the pandemic.”

 

Tags / #life under lockdown