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The humanitarian operation in Gaza is in danger of being shut down due to a lack of fuel.
Middle East World News

in Gaza The humanitarian operation in Gaza is in danger of being shut down due to a lack of fuel.

During a comprehensive meeting with the media in Geneva, Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, restated the plea for a halt in fighting and also addressed false information being spread about the agency, such as allegations of aid misappropriation.

According to him, there have also been reports of UN schools being utilized for military activities.

Commitment in crisis

In the meeting, Mr. Lazzarini mentioned that he had been informed of a communication blackout in Gaza caused by a shortage of fuel.

He reiterated his previous caution that UNRWA is depleting its fuel supply, endangering crucial assistance to 2.2 million people in Gaza. This will affect various aspects such as aid distribution, water provision, and even the ability to withdraw money from ATMs.

“We will no longer be able to fulfill our promise of providing for the Palestinian people,” he stated. “I believe there is a deliberate effort to hinder our operations and cripple the UNRWA’s mission.”

Leaving the northern region

Mr. Lazzarini outlined the total devastation of nearly six weeks of conflict which he said has sparked the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1948. 

Numerous individuals have evacuated from northern Gaza to the southern region, arriving in a state of extreme thirst, hunger, fatigue, and trauma.

UNRWA schools are now hosting more than 800,000 people amid dire conditions and lack of food, water and adequate sanitation. More than 30 per cent of people in shelters are already exhibiting skin illnesses.

UN shelters hit 

He also spoke about some of the recent issues and clarified any misunderstandings or false information from UNRWA.

According to him, even though individuals have been fleeing from the northern region, about one-third of the total number of fatalities have taken place in the southern area. He emphasized that there is no secure location in Gaza, including UN facilities.

“Since the start of the conflict, at least 60 individuals have been impacted. Currently, the death toll has reached over 60 people and there are also hundreds of reported injuries,” he stated.

UNRWA deaths mount 

He gave a report on UNRWA’s casualties, with a confirmed count of 103 staff members killed, although the actual number may be higher. He referred to these individuals as dedicated UN employees who were committed to serving the community and were not involved in the conflict itself.

Mr. Lazzarini also addressed claims that UNRWA schools promote hatred, which he strongly denied. He stated that the agency has a strict policy of not tolerating hate speech, racism, or incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.

Condemnation and clarifications 

“I will always condemn the abhorrent attacks that occurred on October 7 in Israel, and I reject any claims connecting UNRWA personnel and schools to these attacks,” stated the spokesperson for UNRWA.

The speaker raised doubts about the intentions behind the assertions made through extensive advocacy efforts, particularly given the current circumstances.

He reiterated that UNRWA ensures aid is not redirected by directly implementing its programs without any intermediaries.

Each time we collaborate with suppliers, we ensure that they do not appear on any sanction lists,” he explained, further noting that the names of all employees are shared with the host nation and Israeli government on an annual basis.

He stated that we are without a doubt one of the most closely examined groups.

UN facilities ‘violated’ 

According to Mr. Lazzarini, there have been frequent violations at UN facilities over the past six weeks.

Recently, he has been informed that multiple UNRWA schools have been utilized for military intentions, with one instance involving the uncovering of weapons within the school grounds and Israeli forces being stationed in at least two other UN schools.

The journalists continuously requested clarification.

“According to my sources, I have been informed of potential claims and accusations. However, I am unable to verify their accuracy. These allegations suggest that weapons may have been discovered in schools in the northern region where a military operation is taking place. Additionally, there are reports on social media that Israeli military forces have been seen near the UN compound,” he stated at one instance.

He emphasized that this action is a clear violation that puts UNRWA employees at risk.

“If this is accurate information, it should be retracted and condemned,” he stated.

There is sewage flowing in the streets.

Mr. Lazzarini raised concerns about the decreasing availability of fuel and noted that he had initially raised the issue three weeks ago. He explained that UNRWA had managed to access the remaining fuel in Gaza during this time, but only with coordination from Israel.

The agency recently received a small amount of fuel, equivalent to half a truck, on Wednesday. However, there were conditions attached to the delivery. This fuel is restricted to be used by trucks that are transporting goods arriving at the Rafah crossing from Egypt. As a result, other essential services such as water desalination plants, sewage pumping systems, and bakeries will not have access to fuel.

Yesterday, it was reported that 70% of the population in the southern region no longer has access to clean water. Additionally, today, raw sewage has begun to flow in the streets.

The World Food Programme cautions about the danger of famine.

The World Food Programme (WFP) stated on Thursday that instances of malnutrition and dehydration in Gaza are growing at a rapid rate every day.

Abeer Atefa, WFP’s Senior Spokeswoman for the Middle East, warned that Gaza is in danger of experiencing severe hunger if fuel and food supplies do not increase quickly. She made this statement from Cairo.

She cautioned that as winter draws near and shelters become overcrowded and unsafe, with a lack of clean water, people are at risk of starvation.

Eating raw onions

According to Ms. Atefa, only 10% of essential food items have been delivered to the enclave since the conflict began, resulting in a significant shortage of food. As a result, the entire population of 2.2 million people now requires food aid.

Many individuals struggle to have only a single meal per day, with only canned food and occasionally bread as their limited food choices.

She stated that certain individuals have turned to eating raw onions and uncooked eggplant, and anything else they can find.

The Al Naser hospital in Khan Younis.

The hospital in Khan Younis is called Al Naser.

Food systems collapsing

While some aid trucks have arrived, they are struggling to transport limited amounts of food and water due to damaged roads or a shortage of fuel.

“The current food systems in Gaza are on the verge of collapse,” she stated, as stores have depleted their stocks.

“The production of food has significantly slowed down, resulting in market collapse. Fishermen are unable to go out to sea, and farmers are unable to tend to their crops. Additionally, the final bakery that the World Food Programme has been collaborating with has shut down due to the scarcity of fuel.”

Last mill shuttered

In addition, the bakeries that were previously functioning are now unable to continue due to a lack of fuel and access to clean water, or due to damage they have incurred. The final mill used for grinding wheat to make bread has also ceased operations after being damaged in an attack.

“The interruption of our bread supply has greatly affected the people in Gaza, as it is their main source of sustenance,” she stated.

Due to the scarcity of gas and electricity, numerous individuals have resorted to using wood for cooking or baking bread. Additionally, perishable food is not a feasible choice as there is no access to electricity for refrigeration.

Bread baskets empty

At the beginning of the dispute, WFP and UNRWA collaborated with 23 bakeries to distribute fresh bread daily to 200,000 individuals residing in shelters. However, all of these bakeries are currently no longer operational.

Before the conflict, there were around 130 bakeries scattered throughout Gaza. However, over 11 of them have been targeted and destroyed by airstrikes, including one that was contracted by WFP. The remaining bakeries are struggling to operate due to a lack of fuel.

Safe access critical

The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided assistance to approximately 764,000 individuals in Gaza and the West Bank through the distribution of ready-to-eat meals, food parcels, and electronic vouchers. Additionally, almost 500,000 people taking shelter in UN facilities have been given bread, canned tuna, or high-nutrient date bars.

She stated that individuals used their vouchers in October, but now they are considered worthless as there are no food items available for purchase.

The WFP intends to expand their efforts in order to assist one million individuals in Gaza by December. They emphasized the importance of obtaining fuel, increasing aid convoys, opening up multiple border entry points, and ensuring safe access for humanitarian efforts to address the increasing demands.