Obstacles in providing aid to Gaza persist, causing delays in crucial relief efforts.
Humanitarian workers from the United Nations are issuing a warning that the level of aid provided to residents of Gaza is currently at a critical and dire stage.
The recent update from the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, stated that there is continued heavy Israeli bombing of the occupied area and Palestinian armed groups are also firing rockets into Israel. This update was released on Wednesday evening.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) stated that due to ongoing violence, it is extremely challenging to provide aid relief beyond the southern region of Rafah in the Strip. More than 1.2 million individuals are currently living in overcrowded and unsafe conditions, covered only by plastic sheets.
“The situation in areas outside of Rafah is dire and requires urgent assistance,” stated Abeer Atefa, WFP MENA Senior Communications Officer and Spokesperson. She expressed support for the repeated calls for increased access by other UN agencies in order to reach all five governorates in Gaza.
According to OCHA, out of 29 planned missions by humanitarian agencies to deliver life-saving supplies north of Wadi Gaza in the first two weeks of the year, only 25% were able to proceed due to being denied by Israeli authorities.
The United Nations aid department also mentioned that two extra assignments that were initially arranged with the Israeli authorities “could not be carried out due to the impracticality of assigned routes or long delays at checkpoints, preventing the missions from being successful within the designated time frames”.
According to reports, out of the 100 or more Israelis who are thought to still be in captivity in Gaza, approximately 45 of them need medical care for chronic illnesses or vital medications.
According to OCHA, while there are continued airstrikes and intense fighting in Gaza, health officials in the area report that more than 160 people have died in the past two days and another 350 have been wounded. This brings the confirmed total number of Palestinian casualties to over 24,400 since the beginning of the conflict.
According to OCHA, three Israeli soldiers lost their lives in confrontations in Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday. This brings the total number of Israeli fatalities to 191 since October 7, when a series of Hamas-led attacks resulted in approximately 1,200 deaths and 250 hostages. As a result, Israel responded with significant force.
OCHA issued a warning earlier this week stating that the war has resulted in the functioning of only one out of the three water pipelines from Israel to Gaza. The destruction caused by the war is the reason for this decrease in functionality.
The UN aid office has observed that in addition to current high rates of diarrhea and other illnesses due to inadequate sanitation and lack of food, the Deir al Balah water pipeline, which can provide up to 17,000 cubic meters of water per day, is in need of immediate repairs.
According to OCHA, partners in charge of water, hygiene, and sanitation (WASH) have predicted that it may take up to four weeks to complete repairs, assuming continued access and availability of necessary supplies.
UNICEF’s deputy chief issues a warning about the ongoing battle against children.
On Thursday, Ted Chaiban, the deputy chief of UNICEF, expressed concern about the conditions he witnessed during his three-day trip to Gaza this week, stating that they were some of the worst he had ever seen.
In a statement, he mentioned that the situation has worsened significantly since my previous visit and is now close to total collapse.
“According to UNICEF, the Gaza Strip is considered the most perilous location for children to live in. We have stated that this is essentially a conflict targeting children. However, it appears these facts are not being fully acknowledged.”
“Out of the approximately 25,000 individuals who have been reported killed in the Gaza Strip due to the increase in conflict, up to 70 percent are believed to be women and children. It is imperative that the killing of children be stopped immediately.”
One of the individuals he encountered was a young girl named Sama, who was 11 years old and was at Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.
While playing with her friends, she was struck by shrapnel from a bombing. This caused severe damage to Sama’s abdomen, resulting in her undergoing surgery to have her spleen removed. Currently, she is recuperating in the hospital, separated from others due to her weakened immune system in a war-torn area where sickness and contagion are rampant.
He also described meeting 13-year-old Ibrahim: “He was in a designated shelter with his family, in an area they were told was safe, when everything collapsed around them. Ibrahim’s hand was badly damaged and quickly became infected. Without medicine, gangrene took hold and he ultimately lost his arm during an amputation without anaesthetic.”
He stated that these children and their families are in urgent need of a humanitarian ceasefire. He also reminded that there are still two Israeli children being held captive by Palestinian militants, and they must be freed without harm or conditions.
“This is unacceptable and must be addressed.”