Gaza: Fewer than 1 in 4 aid missions given green light, says OCHA

© WFP | A convoy of humanitarian food aid makes its way from Jordan to Gaza

United Nations, 16 January 2024

The Israeli authorities have continued to block lifesaving aid from reaching northern Gaza 102 days since Hamas-led terror attacks triggered the war, UN humanitarians have insisted, just as UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “the long shadow of starvation” stalks the people of Gaza.

“In the first two weeks of January, only 24 per cent – seven out of 29 – of planned missions to deliver food, medicine, water and other lifesaving supplies successfully reached their destinations north of Wadi Gaza,” said the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Echoing those concerns and highlighting the dire situation everywhere in the enclave, OCHA worker Olga Cherevko said that conditions were awful for displaced people in the south of Gaza, too.

“Some people have not eaten in days,” she said on Tuesday in a video posted on X, formerly Twitter. “The children have no winter clothes. There’s no medical care. […] The extent of needs is enormous.”

In its latest update on the war issued on Sunday evening, OCHA noted that most of the Israeli denials involved fuel and medicines allocated for reservoirs, water wells and health facilities north of Wadi Gaza.

Lack of fuel for water, sanitation and hygiene increases risks of health and environmental hazards. Lack of medicine debilitated the functionality of the six partially functioning hospitals,” OCHA noted, as it highlighted “intense Israeli air, land and sea bombardments, ground operations and fighting with Palestinian armed groups continued across much of the Gaza Strip, alongside the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups into Israel”.

Meanwhile, the UN health agency WHO reported that Nasser Medical Complex in the southern city of Khan Younis “continues to receive high volume of trauma and burn cases”.  

The hospital has 700 patients which is double its normal capacity while the ICU and burns unit “are severely understaffed, delaying lifesaving treatment”.

The development followed a ceasefire appeal to all parties issued late on Monday by UN chief Mr. Guterres. He also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken during the 7 October terror attacks and the thorough investigation of all allegations of sexual violence against Palestinian militants.

We can’t effectively deliver humanitarian aid while Gaza is under heavy, widespread and unrelenting bombardment,” Mr. Guterres said, as he expressed deep concern about the “wholesale destruction” and levels of civilian casualties that were “unprecedented” during his time as Secretary-General.

“While there have been some steps to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, life-saving relief is not getting to people who have endured months of relentless assault at anywhere near the scale needed”, he continued. 

“The long shadow of starvation is stalking the people of Gaza – along with disease, malnutrition and other health threats.”

Independent UN human rights experts in a news release on Tuesday, reported that Gazans now make up 80 per cent of all those facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide.

“Currently every single person in Gaza is hungry, a quarter of the population are starving and struggling to find food and drinkable water, and famine is imminent,” several the UN Special Rapporteurs in a joint statement. 

The group of experts warned that all children under five in Gaza – some 335,000 – are at high risk of severe malnutrition, which means that “a whole generation is now in danger of suffering from stunting.”

“It is unprecedented to make an entire civilian population go hungry this completely and quickly. Israel is destroying Gaza’s food system and using food as a weapon against the Palestinian people,” the human rights advocates stated. 

The UN Human Rights Council-appointed rights experts said that Israel had essentially blocked all access to farmland and the sea as a food source.

Approximately 22 per cent of agricultural land in northern Gaza has been “razed by Israeli forces” and about 70 per cent of Gaza’s fishing fleet allegedly destroyed, they added.  

More than 60 percent of Palestinian homes in Gaza have been damaged, which directly affects the ability to cook any food, and the experts accused Israel of causing domicide through the mass destruction of dwellings, making the territory uninhabitable.

Special Rapporteurs are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. They do not receive a salary for their work and serve in their individual capacity.

The original article appeared here.

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