UN halts food distribution in Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity

21 May 2024, 18:54

Smokes rise to the sky after explosions in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel
Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

If food does not resume entering Gaza ‘in massive quantities, famine-like conditions will spread’, a World Food Programme spokesperson said.

The United Nations says it has suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity.

It also said no aid trucks entered via a pier set up by the US for sea deliveries for the past two days.

The UN has not specified how many people remain in Rafah after the Israeli military launched an intensified assault there on May 6, but there appears to be several hundred thousand.

Abeer Etefa, a spokesperson for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), warned that “humanitarian operations in Gaza are near collapse”.

If food and other supplies do not resume entering Gaza “in massive quantities, famine-like conditions will spread”, she said.

The main agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, on Tuesday announced the suspension of distribution in Rafah in a post on X, without elaborating.

Ms Etefa said the WFP had also stopped distribution in Rafah after exhausting its stocks.

It continues passing out hot meals in central Gaza and “limited distributions” of reduced food parcels in central Gaza, but “food parcel stocks will run out within days”, she said.

Ms Etefa said 10 trucks entered through the US-made pier on Friday and were taken to its warehouse in central Gaza.

But a delivery on Saturday of 11 trucks was stopped by crowds of Palestinians who took supplies, and only five trucks made it to the warehouse.

No further deliveries came from the pier on Sunday or Monday, she said.

Israel-Hamas war in Gaza Strip
(PA Graphics)

Entry of aid to Gaza through the two main crossings in the south has nearly ground to a halt in the past two weeks since Israel launched an incursion into Rafah on May 6, vowing to root out Hamas fighters.

Troops seized the Rafah crossing into Egypt, which has been closed since.

Since May 10, only about three dozen trucks have made it into Gaza via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel because fighting makes it difficult for aid workers to reach it, the UN says.

The UN says some 1.1 million people in Gaza – nearly half the population – face catastrophic levels of hunger and that the territory is on the brink of famine.

Until early May, some 1.3 million people were crowded into Rafah after fleeing Israel’s offensive elsewhere in the territory.

At least 810,000 of those have fled since Israel launched its incursion into the city.

Those fleeing have scattered across southern Gaza, erecting sprawling tent camps or crowding into UN schools already heavily damaged from Israel’s previous offensives.

By Press Association

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