Prices soar in Gaza as Rafah tunnels close
Added under Palestine/Israel
More than a week of political unrest in Egypt has heightened the threat of a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Gaza.
Egyptian soldiers fled their posts on the northern border on 30 January, forcing the Rafah crossing - a critical valve for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza - to close.
Around 60 Palestinians, attempting to return home via Cairo when Gaza's southern border closed, are still being held in the "deportation room" at Cairo airport. Among them are six children and several critically ill patients who are running out of medication.
"The children don't know what's happening. Sometimes they're crying. It's very, very cold here; it's crowded and there is nowhere for us to wash," one of those being detained, who asked not to be named, told IRIN on 30 January.
Israel destroyed Gaza's airport during the second Intifada in 2002, and Gazans have few alternatives but to transit through Cairo airport, via Rafah. Since the militant group Hamas took control in 2007, Gazans need special security clearance to enter Egypt. Those with permits to travel abroad are taken directly to Cairo airport by bus where they are held until their flight departs. On the return leg they are held at the airport until they can be taken to the Rafah crossing.
Sources: UN Integrated Regional Information Network
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