ei: Gaza short of food

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 7 January 2009

GAZA CITY/RAMALLAH, Occupied Palestinian Territory (IRIN) – Civilians are finding it increasingly difficult to find food in Gaza. Markets opened briefly in Gaza City on 5 January, but they had little to offer, according to residents.

Queues for bread formed, with buyers limited to five shekels worth per person — about 35 flat breads — not enough for families with an average of six children.

The World Food Programme (WFP) managed to send into Gaza 11 truckloads of food on 5 January. Its warehouses are stocked with some 3,700 metric tons of food — about half the normal level, WFP said.

Food aid distributions have been hampered by truckers unwilling to do the job because of concerns about their safety. Fighting, shelling and bombing are also limiting the ability of recipients and WFP’s partners to reach distribution points, WFP said.

The tunnel network between Egypt and Gaza has been bombed, affecting a significant route for food and fuel for Gaza, according to aid workers.

However, Kerem Shalom crossing, the Nahal Oz fuel pipeline and Erez crossing opened 5 January. Sixty truckloads of humanitarian supplies entered through Kerem Shalom. Nearly 215,000 liters of industrial fuel, along with 47 tons of cooking gas, have been pumped from Israel to Gaza but not collected due to the violence. One hundred thousand liters of diesel have been delivered to the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza, UNRWA spokesperson, Sami Mshasha, told IRIN.

More funds needed

Because of new displacements caused by the hostilities, WFP estimates that a further 50,000 people in Gaza will require assistance over the coming weeks, requiring an additional US$9 million in funding.

UNRWA re-started its emergency food distributions in some areas on 1 January, providing food to about 20,000 refugees, including rice, cooking oil, flour, canned meat and milk. Some 750,000 refugees in Gaza depend on UNRWA food assistance.

On 31 December UNRWA issued an emergency flash appeal requesting US$34 million to respond to Gaza’s worsening humanitarian crisis. Of the funds requested $10 million will be used for emergency food aid, $10 million for cash assistance, $10.5 million to repair homes damaged by the bombing, and $500,000 for diesel fuel for municipalities and other public service providers, like the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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ei: Gaza short of food.

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