U.N. officials warn that aid efforts face imminent threat from lack of fuel and food.

Fuel trucks rolled into the Gaza Strip on Friday, after five days without fuel deliveries that U.N. officials said had left hospitals and other parts of the international aid mission facing imminent closure.

The arrival of fuel holds off that collapse temporarily, but leaders of the aid effort say reserves remain dangerously low, and there is still a deepening hunger crisis. The United Nations’ food agency and its primary aid agency in Gaza, UNRWA, will run out of food for distribution in southern Gaza on Saturday, said Georgios Petropoulos, head of the U.N. aid office in the southern city of Rafah.

Gaza’s power grid has long since ceased to function, leaving hospitals, water desalination plants and other critical infrastructure to depend on fuel-burning generators to produce electricity, and vehicles like aid distribution trucks and ambulances also need fuel.

Israeli authorities said 200,000 liters of fuel were delivered to Gaza on Friday. The main United Nations aid agency for the region, UNRWA, put the figure at 157,000 liters. The enclave needs about 160,000 liters per day to function, U.N. officials have said.

But other vital supplies like food and medicine have not reached southern Gaza, where most of the population has sought refuge, since Sunday, UNRWA said.

Once fuel crossed the border into Gaza on Friday, it was not clear how much of it reached its intended destinations. Aid groups have faced an immense challenge in distributing supplies in a war zone with active combat, roadblocks and streets pocked with bomb craters and debris.

Hours before the Israeli announcement of renewed fuel delivery on Friday, U.N. officials said that the cutoff had left their humanitarian activities, particularly providing food and health care, on the brink of collapse as malnutrition and disease mount. Five hospitals, five field hospitals, 10 mobile clinics treating war injuries and malnutrition, and nearly 30 ambulances would soon stop operating, Mr. Petropoulos warned.

“Humanitarian operations cannot run without fuel,” he said. He added that the U.N.’s humanitarian operations would halt “within the next two days” unless solutions were found quickly to allow deliveries of fuel and other supplies into Gaza.

Eight of 12 bakeries in southern Gaza had halted operations for lack of fuel and stock, he added, and the remaining four had only a few days of reserves left.

“In a matter of days, if this is not corrected, the lack of fuel will really grind the whole humanitarian operation to a halt,” said Hamish Young, the U.N. children’s agency emergency coordinator in Gaza.

After months of mounting international criticism, Israel enabled increased aid shipments in April and the first days of May.

But this week, Israel seized the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing on the territory’s southern border with Egypt, in what it described as a limited operation, and closed it for now. The incursion raised fears that a major offensive into Rafah was imminent.

The other main entry point for aid, also in the south, at Kerem Shalom, was closed for several days after Hamas rockets struck nearby. U.N. officials said fuel passed through Kerem Shalom on Friday, but not other aid.

Only a trickle of aid was entering this week through a border crossing point at the northern end of the Gaza Strip, in Erez, but that cannot reach the south and is inadequate given the scale of need, Mr. Petropoulos said in a video news briefing from Gaza.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *