War in Gaza: UN employee talks about destruction, looting and humanitarian efforts

Война в Газе: сотрудница ООН – о разрушениях, мародерстве и гуманитарных усилиях

People search for water in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. War in Gaza: UN employee talks about destruction, looting and humanitarian efforts Peace and Security

As humanitarian workers navigate the challenges of crossing the border into Gaza, they are faced with the realization that their options are limited with fuel shortages and dwindling supplies. Louise Wateridge, an employee of the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), stated this on Friday.

“Gaza is like hell on earth now. It’s very hot… There’s garbage everywhere, people are living in plastic shelters where the temperature is very high,” said Wateridge, senior public affairs officer for UNRWA.

Life in destroyed houses

Wateridge said that she previously lived in Rafah, but now the city is destroyed. Now it is located in the central part of the enclave. “Driving through Khan Yunis shocked me – I haven’t been there since the Rafah invasion on May 6,” she said. –  It was a ghost town because everything was destroyed.”

“Now there are a lot of families living in the destroyed buildings. Where walls were knocked out, blankets or plastic sheets were hung,” the UNRWA worker added.

Lawlessness and looting

Wateridge confirmed reports of “anarchy” in the enclave. After nearly nine months of Israeli bombing, people in search of food have to stop aid trucks as soon as they enter the Kerem Shalom checkpoint.

“When we arrived, the road was full marauders. We arrived at the same time as several aid trucks, and hundreds of armed men were waiting for their arrival. The trucks we passed along the way were heavily damaged, their windshields completely shattered, and they all had metal bars reinforcing the driver’s area. It felt completely lawless,” the aid worker described.

UN buildings destroyed

Wateridge also described the damage, inflicted on the UN sites she saw on the way from Kerem Shalom.

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“Every UNRWA building – be it a school, a warehouse, a food distribution point – was significantly damaged or even destroyed. Bullet holes, blown-out walls, collapsed floors – you would never know that these are UN sites protected by international law,” she said.

Humanitarian Action

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs  (OCHA), since the beginning of 2024, only 14 percent of the volume of fuel supplied monthly until October 2023 (two million liters compared to 14 million liters) has been allowed into the enclave.

Wateridge stressed that humanitarian efforts continue to be hampered by problems obtaining fuel through the Kerem Shalom crossing. UNRWA has plans to distribute aid, but faces restrictions, she said. “This is further evidence of how bad the humanitarian response is when we don’t even have fuel to get around,” she said.

UNRWA staff also face psychological problems, Wateridge noted. “They are fine, but they are very traumatized by being forced to flee Rafah. They also have nothing left,”  – she said.


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