MIL-OSI United Nations: “The people want this war to end and so do we” says WFP Deputy Executive Director from northern Gaza

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Source: World Food Programme

JERUSALEM – As fighting escalates in the south and centre of Gaza, the toll on civilians is devastating, and the continued hostile operating environment make it near-impossible for humanitarian operations to deliver desperately needed food aid, warned WFP’s Deputy Executive Director, Carl Skau as he today concluded a two day- mission to Gaza.

”Driving through Gaza City to Jabalia, the destruction is unbelievable.  In the North of Gaza, I didn’t see one single building intact and there was constant shelling with drones buzzing overhead,” said Skau. “The people here are traumatised and exhausted. One woman who had lost her husband told me this war has been going on for 250 days – but to her it felt like 250 years.”

With lawlessness inside the Strip now hampering deliveries from Karam Abu Salem/ Kerem Shalom crossing, and active conflict spreading in the southern and middle areas of Gaza, WFP staff are finding it close to impossible to deliver the level of aid that meets the growing demands on the ground.

“It is getting harder to do our job. Staff spend five to eight hours waiting at checkpoints every day. Missiles hit our premises, despite being deconflicted. The breakdown of law and order means we also face looting and violence amid a large security vacuum,” added Skau.

WFP fears that southern Gaza could soon see the same catastrophic levels of hunger recorded previously in the northern areas.

”The situation in southern Gaza is quickly deteriorating. A million people have been pushed out of Rafah and are trapped in a highly congested area along the beach in the burning summer heat. We drove through rivers of sewage,” said Skau.

In northern Gaza, there has been improvement in assistance where WFP and partners have been delivering supplies through West Erez crossing. However, this assistance needs to be sustained and scaled-up to ensure supplies of fresh food. Access to clean water, healthcare, fuel needed for bakeries and medical supplies are also essential to achieve a stable food security situation. “But more than anything people want this war to end, and so do we,” added Skau.

“At WFP we will now look at how we can support the functioning of markets and also get cash to the people so that they can begin to restore their lives. Emergency assistance is still critical, but we also need to start instilling some hope – by supporting bakeries and markets – and go beyond meeting food needs for survival to support water sanitation and basic health care needs. Only this way can we help restore a more dignified form of assistance that goes beyond meeting basic food needs. On my previous visit in November, the people I met were angry. Now they are exhausted and just wanted this war to end.”

The Deputy Executive Director was on a three-day visit to the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem where he met staff, partners and Palestinians.

WFP assisted over 1 million Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza in May, though rations were reduced due to access constraints and dwindling food stocks.

WFP continues to call for an immediate ceasefire and safe and sustained access to deliver life-saving aid.

Notes to the editor:

High resolution photos here

Video footage can be found here

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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