‘Death Sentence’ – UN to Suspend Food Aid Delivery to North Gaza

Aid trucks headed to northern Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Gaza’s Government Media Office has demanded the UN World Food Programme (WFP) immediately rescind its “disastrous” decision to suspend deliveries of life-saving food aid to northern Gaza. 

The WFP announced on Tuesday that it would be “pausing deliveries” of food aid to the north “until conditions are in place that allow for safe distributions.”

In a statement late on Tuesday, the media office said it “received with shock” the news of the decision by the WFP, saying it amounts “to a death sentence for 750,000 people, exacerbating the humanitarian situation.”

“We demand the World Food Programme immediately retract its disastrous decision to suspend the delivery of food aid and hold the United Nations and the international community responsible,” the media office said in a statement late on Tuesday.

“We express our absolute rejection of this decision, which will lead to a global catastrophe.”

The office demanded “all United Nations institutions to urgently return to work in the provinces of Gaza and North Gaza without hesitation, instead of shirking and fleeing from their responsibilities and international duties that must be carried out.”

It further said it holds these institutions “fully responsible for the clear shortfall in performing their assigned tasks, as well as for the catastrophic results of the famine deepening in the Gaza Strip.”

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In a statement, WFP said the decision “has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger.”

WFP stated it is “deeply committed to urgently reaching desperate people across Gaza but the safety and security to deliver critical food aid – and for the people receiving it – must be ensured.”

Deliveries resumed on Sunday after a three-week suspension following the strike on an UNRWA truck and due to the absence of a functioning humanitarian notification system, WFP said.

“The plan was to send 10 trucks of food for seven straight days, to help stem the tide of hunger and desperation and to begin building trust in communities that there would be enough food for all.”

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The statement said that on Sunday, as the WFP started the route towards Gaza City, the convoy “was surrounded by crowds of hungry people” close to the Wadi Gaza checkpoint.

“First fending off multiple attempts by people trying to climb aboard our trucks, then facing gunfire once we entered Gaza City, our team was able to distribute a small quantity of the food along the way.”

On Monday, the second convoy’s journey north “faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order,” it added.

Several trucks were looted between Khan Younes and Deir al Balah and a truck driver was beaten.

“The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza city, amidst high tension and explosive anger,” the WFP said.

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Decreased Aid Trucks

The suspension of aid to the north is exacerbated by a significant decrease in the number of aid trucks entering all of Gaza.

According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, an average of “94.5 trucks per day”  reached Gaza “through the Rafah and Karm Abu Salem crossings” between October 21 and February 1. Before Israel’s current onslaught on the Gaza Strip, approximately 600 trucks were reportedly entering Gaza daily. 

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UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, meanwhile has said that “51 percent” of missions planned by the body and its humanitarian partners “to deliver aid and undertake assessments to areas in north Gaza this year were denied access by Israeli authorities.”

“Food insecurity north of Wadi Gaza has reached an extremely critical state,” UNRWA said in a post on X.

In addition, families of captives in Gaza, along with right-wing activists have blocked the passage of aid trucks through the Kerem Shalom (Karem Abu Salem) crossing.

‘Dying from Hunger-Related Causes’

The WFP further said that in December, the Integrated Phase Classification report compiled by 15 agencies including WFP warned of the risk of famine in northern Gaza by May unless conditions there improved decisively.

“At the end of January, after delivering food to the north, we reported on the rapid deterioration of conditions.”

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In these past two days “our teams witnessed unprecedented levels of desperation,” WFP said, adding that the latest reports “confirm Gaza’s precipitous slide into hunger and disease.”

Food and safe water, the statement added, have become incredibly scarce and diseases are rife, compromising women and children’s nutrition and immunity and resulting in a surge of acute malnutrition.

“People are already dying from hunger-related causes,” WFP stressed. 

It added “Gaza is hanging by a thread and WFP must be enabled to reverse the path towards famine for thousands of desperately hungry people.”

Women, Children Malnourished

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday warned that a steep rise in malnutrition among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in the Gaza Strip poses grave threats to their health.

“Nutrition screenings conducted at shelters and health centers in the north found that 15.6 percent – or 1 in 6 children under 2 years of age – are acutely malnourished,” UNICEF said in a statement.

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Of these, almost 3 percent suffer from “severe wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition,” which puts young children at the highest risk of medical complications and death unless they receive urgent treatment. 

Earlier this month, ActionAid warned that Palestinians have resorted to eating grass in an effort to stave off hunger as Israel continues to stifle the delivery of aid to civilians in the enclave.

“People are now so desperate that they’re eating grass in a last attempt to stave off hunger,” said Riham Jafari, advocacy and communications coordinator at ActionAid Palestine.

(Palestine Chronicle)

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