Egypt extends opening of Rafah border for one day

Sunday 14-02-2016 08:11 PM
Egypt extends opening of Rafah border for one day

CAIRO, Feb 14 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt will extend the opening of the Rafah border crossing, which connects it to the Gaza strip, for one more day, state news agency MENA reported on Sunday. 

The crossing was initially set to be opened for two days, Saturday and Sunday, to allow people stuck on either side of the border and humanitarian cases to cross over.

Citing a border official, MENA said 1,323 people crossed in both directions on Saturday. 

The Rafah border crossing, which provides residents of the Gaza Strip access to Egypt and the rest of the world has been mostly closed since October 2014 when a militant attack in North Sinai left over 30 Egyptian security personnel dead.

Since the deadly attack in Sinai, the border crossing was only opened partially for 39 days, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report for the period between Feb. 2 - 8. The last time the border was opened was in early December, for two days. 

"Authorities in Gaza indicated that over 25,000 people with urgent needs, including around 3,500 medical cases, are registered and waiting to cross," the report said.

Gaza's area is around 360 square kilometres and is home to 1.8 million people, making the enclave among the world's most densely populated areas.

Having been under seige for the past eight years, economic and living conditions inside the Strip are dire.

In May 2015, the World Bank said, "blockades, war and poor governance have strangled Gaza's economy and the unemployment rate is now the highest in the world," adding that the enclave's economy is on the "verge of collapse". 

The difficult living conditions in the enclave were worsened after destruction caused by 50 days of Israeli military operations in the summer of 2014. 

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