Gaza on verge of humanitarian crisis

As many as 12 United Nations agencies have expressed serious concern about a looming humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

    Palestinian homes and schools have been destroyed in Gaza

    The organisations - including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) - said that the ongoing Israeli offensive in northern Gaza is exasperating an already appalling humanitarian situation and "pushing the Palestinian population into a deep crisis".

    Over 80 Palestinians have been killed, including 24 children, since the Israeli army stormed northern Gaza last Tuesday under the pretext of stopping Qassam rockets being fired into its terriroty.

    The Israeli offensive has also left 316 Palestinians, including 110 children, injured.

    No access

    According to the report by one of the signatories, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Israeli army has denied UN personnel secure access into Gaza for the last 14 days.

    UNRWA, the United Nations agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, has so far been unable to deliver emergency food aid to the besieged areas of northern Gaza, where some 50,000 residents are with limited food, water, and electricity. 

    "As the incursion approaches the end of the first week there is growing concern among international organisations over the ability of people to access food.  In the worst affected areas, shops remain closed and people are too afraid to leave their homes to buy food.

    The Israeli onslaught has forced
    schools to close in Gaza

    Both UNRWA and the World Food Programme (WFP) have been unable to undertake distributions since the start of the operation."

    Education disrupted

    All schools in the areas have been closed for fear of Israeli attacks. Two UNRWA schools have been damaged by Israeli tanks, and one kindergarten serving some 500 children, has been completely destroyed.

    The report also said poverty among Palestinians was set to rise to 72% this year, following increased food insecurity in the wake of Israeli operations.

    According to the report, over 50% of Bait Hanun’s agricultural land - considered Gaza's breadbasket - has been destroyed in the last four years.

    "Economic options for Palestinians are disappearing and coping mechanisms for the community are nearly exhausted.  Malnutrition rates have increased...education standards have slumped…and UNICEF reports a marked increase in psychological disorders among Palestinian children," read the report. 

    In addition, the report found that nearly 25,000 Gazans have been made homeless by Israeli demolitions since the start of the Intifada.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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