Gaza aid delivery halved since January: UNRWA chief warns

Feb 26, 2024

The amount of aid reaching Gaza fell by half in February from the month before, the head of the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees (UNRWA) warned Monday.

“February registered a 50% reduction of humanitarian aid entering Gaza compared to January,” Philippe Lazzarini, the UNRWA chief, said in a statement on X. “Aid was supposed to increase not decrease to address the huge needs of 2 million Palestinians in desperate living conditions.”

He listed some of the obstacles to aid delivery, including lack of political will, the regular closing of the two crossing points into the enclave, as well as insecurity due to military operations and the collapse of civil order

He said a ceasefire, “lifting the siege to allow meaningful lifesaving aid and commercial supplies, are long overdue”.

On average, nearly 98 aid trucks entered Gaza this month, UNRWA said in its latest situation report, issued on Monday.

The agency noted “significant difficulties” in bringing supplies through the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings due to security constraints and temporary closures.

“UNRWA has at times had to temporarily stop discharging supplies due to security concerns. Security to manage the crossing has been severely impacted due to the killing of several Palestinian policemen in Israeli airstrikes near the crossings recently,” it said.

Ground operations and heavy fighting continue across the Gaza Strip, particularly in northern Gaza, Deir al Balah and Khan Younis, the agency reported.

People fleeing intense fighting in and around Khan Younis continue to head further south to overcrowded Rafah. Some 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering in the city, which remains a focus of international concern amid the threat of an all-out Israeli offensive.

“Increased airstrikes in Rafah, including in residential areas without prior warnings have heightened fears that they will further hamper overstretched humanitarian operations,” UNRWA said.

At the same time, people have been moving out of Rafah towards Deir Al Balah and Nuseirat refugee camps in the Middle Area of Gaza, even though there. Over 75 per cent of Gaza’s population, up to 1.7 million people, have been displaced since October 7.

UN agencies continue to warn of the deepening hunger crisis in Gaza. More than two million people are facing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity, according to the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA.

Additionally, only one of the three water pipelines from Israel is operational, but at less than half capacity, 83 per cent of groundwater wells are not operating, all wastewater treatment systems are not working, and there is no access to clean water in the northern governorates.