Gaza: UN humanitarian agencies face increased difficulties and violence

Газа: гуманитарные учреждения ООН сталкиваются с возросшими трудностями и насилием

The UNRWA school in Khan Younis, which became a refuge for the population, is in ruins. Gaza: UN humanitarian agencies face increased difficulties and violence Peace and Security

Amid intense fighting in Gaza, U.N. aid workers on Wednesday repeated warnings that widespread famine remains a threat to the enclave’s population due to restrictions and a lack of safe access.

Babies are still being born at too low a weight, the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) has warned. More than 150,000 pregnant and lactating women face inadequate sanitation and health hazards, UNRWA added.

The World Food Program (WFP) has highlighted the scale of the challenge parents face to ensure the well-being of their children. According to WFP, one in three children under two years of age now suffers from acute malnutrition or wasting. WFP is distributing vitamin-fortified date bars to families to help ease the situation. 

Nasser Hospital 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis is expected to officially open in the coming days. 

The hospital was previously one of the largest in Gaza, but was severely damaged by shelling and a siege in February. Last week, the facility resumed providing dialysis services to patients who could no longer receive treatment in Rafah, OCHA said.

Risks to children

The escalation of fighting in Rafah and throughout the Gaza Strip has added to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of children who have endured an ongoing nightmare for 218 days. This was stated by Adele Khodr, Regional Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the Middle East and North Africa.

We cannot accept that the plight of children is seen as damage in the conflict, she said.

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A military operation began in Rafah last week, leaving some 450,000 residents in dangerous areas cities were forced to leave their homes, Khodr noted. Meanwhile, she said, bombing and ground operations spread into northern Gaza, including into refugee camps. There, at least 64 thousand people fled their shelters for safety.

“Civilians, already exhausted, malnourished and suffering from multiple traumatic events, now face increasing deaths, injuries and forced displacement amid the ruins of their communities,” a UNICEF spokeswoman said in a statement. 

Vital Infrastructure

Major hospitals in the north of the country, located in evacuation zones, are caught in the crossfire, putting many lives at risk , and the starving population is now cut off from any assistance, she noted. UNICEF is also concerned about the state of water infrastructure and the lack of access to clean water and sanitation services in the enclave. In Rafah, at least eight water supplies have failed, forcing 300,000 people, including many children, likely to return to drinking unsafe water. “When there is not enough water, children suffer the most,” noted Khodr.

Border crossings must be opened as soon as possible to allow humanitarian organizations to move safely and provide vital assistance that affects the health and well-being of all children in the enclave, she continued. “The children of Gaza, who have endured unimaginable horrors, deserve an immediate ceasefire and a chance at a peaceful future,” said the UNICEF Regional Director.

Газа: гуманитарные учреждения ООН сталкиваются с возросшими трудностями и насилием

At the same time, humanitarian operations, which have become the only “lifeline” for the entire population of the sector, are under threat, she emphasized. According to her, since the beginning of the latest escalation, UNICEF has faced increased difficulties in transporting any aid to the Gaza Strip, and fuel shortages remain an acute problem.

Settler attacks

Humanitarian organizations in Gaza and beyond continue to face serious obstacles. 

On Tuesday, Israeli settlers in the West shore, they attacked trucks carrying humanitarian supplies heading to the enclave. Several trucks were damaged and cargo was damaged, OCHA said.

Arson of the UNRWA building

Meanwhile, on Monday evening, a new arson attempt was made at the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in occupied East Jerusalem. This was the second such incident in five days, said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. He said that on Monday, Israeli youth and children tried to set fire to the UNRWA building. “This has to stop,” he stressed.

Last Thursday, Lazzarini reported that Israeli residents twice set fires around the perimeter of the UNRWA headquarters while staff from several UN agencies were inside the compound. “Although no one was injured among our staff, the fire caused significant damage to open areas,” he said at the time, noting that UNRWA headquarters includes a gas and diesel station for the agency’s fleet of vehicles.

The head of UNRWA recalled that during last week’s incident, a crowd “accompanied by armed men near the compound chanted ‘burn the United Nations'” and it took Israeli authorities “some time ” before they arrived to take action. 

Lazzarini also said that over the past two months, Israeli extremists protested outside the UNRWA compound in East Jerusalem, as encouraged by an elected member of the Jerusalem municipality. Last week, the protest turned violent, with demonstrators throwing stones at UN workers and buildings at the compound. According to the head of UNRWA, staff were regularly subjected to bullying and intimidation, including with gunfire, and the complex was damaged by vandalism.

“State Israel, as the occupying power, has a responsibility to ensure the continued protection of United Nations personnel and facilities,” the head of UNRWA said on social media following the arson attempt last week. According to him, those responsible must be brought to justice. If this does not happen, then a “new dangerous precedent” will be set.


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