Urgent Call for Humanitarian Action
United Nations agencies today issued a stark warning about the growing risk of famine in Gaza and the escalating threat of disease outbreaks. Leaders from the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO) outlined the critical need for a fundamental increase in humanitarian aid. This includes opening new entry routes, allowing more trucks through border checks, reducing restrictions on humanitarian workers, and ensuring safe access for aid distribution.
Alarming Food Insecurity
Gaza’s entire population, unable to produce or import enough food, relies on aid for survival. Current humanitarian assistance, though significant, falls short of what is needed to prevent a lethal combination of hunger, malnutrition, and disease. The northern areas of Gaza are particularly affected by severe shortages of food, clean water, and medical assistance.
Critical Infrastructure Damage
The humanitarian response in Gaza is severely limited due to the closure of most border crossings and a complex vetting process for incoming trucks. Once aid reaches Gaza, the establishment of service points is further complicated by ongoing bombardments and fluctuating battlefronts, posing risks to both residents and humanitarian workers.
Efforts to Mitigate Crisis
Despite these challenges, agencies like WFP and UNICEF are working tirelessly to provide essential supplies. WFP has been delivering food aid daily since October 7, reaching over 900,000 people in December alone. UNICEF has been addressing critical needs by providing safe drinking water, medical supplies, and nutritional support. However, much more aid is required to address the dire conditions.
Immediate Action Required
Agency leaders are calling for immediate actions to facilitate aid delivery. This includes Israeli authorization for the use of nearby ports and the opening of northern border crossings to aid agencies. Phillipe Lazzarini, Commissioner General for the UN Palestine Refugee Agency (UNRWA), emphasized that humanitarian aid alone is not sufficient and that commercial supplies are essential for reviving the market and providing alternative food sources. The UN heads are urging for the lifting of barriers to aid delivery within Gaza, resumption of commercial traffic, and a humanitarian ceasefire. This is essential to roll out a large-scale, multi-agency humanitarian operation aimed at alleviating the severe hunger, malnutrition, and health crises facing the population of Gaza.