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Food aid failing to reach Gaza residents despite ‘catastrophic’ hunger crisis

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24 December 2023, The Guardian, by Kaamil Ahmed

A couple of biscuits and a can of beans is all that many Palestinians in Gaza say is being given to families to live on, if they receive aid at all, and that they are finding donated items for sale in the markets.

The risk of famine is increasing every day, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which said this week that Gaza’s entire population is suffering “catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity”, the highest proportion of a population with acute food insecurity the monitor has ever recorded.

On Friday, the United Nations security council backed a resolution calling for a major boost in humanitarian assistance for Gaza. But the UN secretary general, António Guterres, told reporters: “The real problem is that the way Israel is conducting this offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza.”

The World Food Programme has also said it is becoming more difficult to reach people because of intensified fighting, with food becoming scarce and expensive, and fuel for cooking hard to find. The WFP’s most recent food security update said the situation is worst in northern Gaza, where 90% of people have gone a full day and night without eating.

Many of Gaza’s residents have used social media to vent their frustrations over the lack of supplies and high prices, which they say have become worse since the end of a temporary pause in the fighting in November.

“After 70 days of war in Gaza, finally aid has entered Gaza … for eight people, just these two?” said one man in a video shared by Al Jazeera, holding a can of beans and a small packet of biscuits.

Maya al-Khadr posted a video on Snapchat showing a box of cheese and eight individually wrapped date cookies she said her family had been given in Rafah – the area of southern Gaza where tens of thousands of people have fled in the past two weeks.

“This is my meal for the whole day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. The distributions are sometimes two cans of beans on one day, some days nothing at all, some days a couple of cans of tuna. Many days it’s just biscuits for several people,” she said.

Food supplies in Gaza have been limited because of a siege imposed by Israel since the 7 October attacks by Hamas and only limited humanitarian aid has entered Gaza through the border crossing with Egypt.

While those who have received some of the deliveries have complained about the amounts, others said they have received nothing and are finding food items marked “not for sale” in the markets.

“It’s very bad on a humanitarian level,” said Dina Safi, whose family was displaced from al-Nuseirat in central Gaza, which has become cut off because of intense Israeli operations. “We have no wheat to make bread, we have no rice, no food in the markets.

“We had days that I wasn’t able to find enough food to eat, even though we have money. But last week we were not able to find food because it’s not available and every food supply price is tripled. A box of eggs used to be $4.70, now it’s $14.50”

Safi said she bought a can of tuna marked “not for sale” and “gift from the people of Japan – World Food Programme” for nine shekels (about £2) in the market.

Safi, who described her family as upper middle class, said because they have money they can survive for about two weeks. Her extended family have been sheltering together, which she said has meant they can share their resources, but she worried for others.

She said that most aid seemed to be delivered to evacuation shelters but that many displaced people, like her own family, were living elsewhere. “It’s pretty hard for others. They eat a lot less than usual,” she said.

A Palestinian living in Khan Younis, whose name has not been published for their safety, said aid was not being distributed fairly to everyone and that some people were taking more than their share and selling it.

They said most people were not receiving aid because they did not live in the shelters, which are overcrowded, and that this was encouraging looting. They also accused Hamas-run authorities of not fairly distributing aid.

“Qatari and Kuwaiti aid is received by the Ministry of Social Affairs and placed in its warehouses and is not distributed. If it is distributed, it is through organisations affiliated with Hamas. They distribute it to themselves and the rest of the people do not benefit from it,” they said.

“For me, I tolerate injustice and I can buy aid, but I live with people on the street and I can feel them and feel how much they need this aid. I feel their anger constantly, which also drives them to try to steal aid trucks.”

A WFP spokesperson said it is continuing aid deliveries but “there is simply not enough food”.

The UN agency said it has reached 760,000 people with “fortified biscuits, food parcels or wheat flour” over the past two weeks.

“With just a fraction of the needed food supplies coming in, a lack of fuel, interruptions to communications and no safety, we cannot do our job,” they said.

“The WFP takes the unauthorised selling of its humanitarian food assistance extremely seriously and is committed to ensuring that it reaches the most vulnerable people who depend on it for their survival.”

Article link: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/dec/23/food-aid-failing-to-reach-gaza-residents-despite-catastrophic-hunger-crisis
Article source: The Guardian | Kaamil Ahmed | Sun 24 Dec 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000