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UNWFP: Situation in Gaza ‘catastrophic’

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The situation in Gaza is catastrophic, with food, water, and electricity supplies in the besieged city dwindling, a World Food Programme (WFP) official told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.

“The situation is disastrous. “Gaza is on the verge of running out of food, water, and electricity,” Alia Zaki, Head of Communications and Information Management at the UN World Food Program’s Palestine Country Office, said.

Israel has been conducting air strikes on Gaza for five days in a row in reaction to the Palestinian group Hamas’s unexpected entrance into Israeli territory on Saturday.

Entire neighbourhoods in the city have been reduced to rubble, leaving the bulk of its 2.3 million inhabitants without shelter, food, or water.

According to Zaki, the destroyed infrastructure has seriously hampered food production and delivery at WFP-monitored shops and bakeries.

“Half of the WFP-monitored shops and bakeries will run out of food within a week.” And for those who are still operating, frequent power outages pose a risk of food spoiling,” she explained.

Israel has imposed a “complete siege” on Gaza, preventing food and fuel from reaching the impoverished territory, where the UN estimates that more than 80% of the population already lives in poverty.

The Gaza Electricity Authority announced Wednesday afternoon that the enclave’s sole power plant had ran out of fuel and had suspended operations.

“The only power plant in the Gaza Strip ceased operations at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT),” stated the authority’s head, Jalal Ismail, in a statement, after previously warning that it was running low on fuel.

Residents can still use generators for electricity; but, because to Israel’s embargo on all sides of the border, the gasoline required to run these generators is expected to run out shortly, according to Ismail.

Zaki emphasised that completely cutting off energy supply would jeopardise Gaza’s meagre food supply.

Frequent power outages and connectivity challenges, she warned, will further impede WFP activities in the city.

According to Zaki, the World Food Programme has already initiated an emergency operation to deliver a vital food lifeline to over 800,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank who lack access to food, water, and essential supplies.

137,000 displaced Gazans seeking sanctuary in UNRWA shelters have received ready-to-eat fresh bread and tinned food.

The WFP has also issued an emergency cash top-up to 164,000 people’s electronic vouchers, which they can use to buy food from local stores that are still operating.

According to the UNRWA’s latest update report, almost 175,500 internally displaced persons are seeking shelter in 88 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip, with the number projected to rise as Israeli air strikes continue.

“Our pre-positioned food stock and resources will soon run out,” she explained to Al Arabiya English.

Humanitarian corridors must continue to operate.

Following Hamas’ unexpected attack on Israel, several countries, notably Sweden and Denmark, have stated they will cease aid to Palestinian territory. Following considerable criticism earlier this week, the European Commission reversed its decision to suspend help to the besieged city.

This comes as Norway, Spain, and a number of other countries and rights groups have cautioned that suspending aid will exacerbate the already grave situation in Gaza.

“The WFP calls for humanitarian corridors to bring aid into Gaza, borders be kept open and protected from shelling,” Zaki said in a statement.

She noted that the agency is working closely with local partners, other UN partners, and all stakeholders to manage access and ensure that assistance reaches people in need.

Obstacles on the ground

Residents and relief workers in Gaza are scrambling for refuge as Israel continues to attack the city.

Gazans are facing increasing uncertainty as they are surrounded by wreckage and have nowhere to hide.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said that five of its members were murdered in Israeli raids, including four paramedics.

According to Zaki, the most pressing issues for WFP personnel on the ground are safety and transportation.

“We rely on humanitarian workers on the ground who are doing everything they can while also being at risk themselves, facing displacement, and looking after their families and loved ones at the same time,” she went on to say.

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