by Osama Radi, Emad Drimly
GAZA, June 9 (Xinhua) -- It was a happy moment for Sobheya Abu Zuhri, a 60-year-old poor woman from southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, to go for a free shopping.
A first ever charity market in the region provides poor people a free shopping, with a variety of vegetables, fruits, foodstuffs and fresh meat for three days.
Elderly Abu Zuhri, responsible for a family of nine, said she had acquired canned food, vegetables and meat, as she has to feed her family during the Muslims fasting month of Ramadan started on May 27.
Rayan Shurrab, another beneficiary of the project said "the charity market is a good way to help poor people during Ramadan. What distinguishes this kind of charity work is that you can choose what you need from the market, unlike others who just give you a closed box of food."
"Here, we can take what we really need," said Shurab, while he was picking up some vegetables, cooking oil and a chicken. Shurab is one of tens of thousands of people who live in the Gaza Strip under the poverty line due to a tight Israeli blockade that has been imposed on the coastal enclave for more than ten years.
A recent United Nations report warned that the Gaza Strip would be unlivable place in 2020 due to high rates of poverty, unemployment, shortage of water and power resources, and deterioration in medical, social and educational services.
Gaza Strip population has recently grown up to more than 2 million people.
During the holy month of Ramadan, charity organizations and individuals, who are financially competent, carry out charity initiatives to help the poor. They used to have a job and were living in good living condition before 2007.
In the summer of 2007, Islamic Hamas movement had violently seized control of the Gaza Strip following weeks of internal fighting with the security forces of President Mahmoud Abbas. In return, Israel considered the coastal enclave a hostile entity and imposed a tight blockade on the territory.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said in an official report published at the end of 2016 that unemployment in the Gaza Strip hit 41.7 percent, one of the highest percentages in the world. Economy experts said "the living conditions in Gaza got worse when Abbas cut 30 percent of his employees' salaries.
Bilal Kudeih, the charity market's organizers, said "the project is a charity market. We need to help the poor through such a project. Here, the poor families can get the voucher and move freely and get their needs of meat, vegetables, fruits and other foodstuff."
He went on saying that 500 poor families got benefits from the project and that all of them are residents from the southern area of the Gaza Strip.
The charity market project was funded by a South African charity organization. The organization funded the project with 35,000 U.S. dollars, he said.
Kudeih called on the international community to increase its initiatives for providing financial support and other kinds of humanitarian aid to the populations of the Gaza Strip "to help them overcoming the current hard living situation they have been passing through over the past ten years."