By The Insight Post Uganda
As the conflict between Israel and Palestine intensifies, a complete blockade of essential resources, including food, water, and vital services, has been imposed by Israel.
Reports have also emerged of Israeli ground operations in Gaza, home to more than two million people, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
Amidst these dire circumstances, UN offices in Gaza have endured significant damage due to nearby airstrikes on Monday night. However, UN agencies are working tirelessly to provide assistance to affected populations in Gaza and the West Bank, which is home to 871,000 registered refugees.
The UN relief agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, currently deploys a substantial workforce, with 13,000 national and international staff, many of whom are refugees themselves, in Gaza and nearly 4,000 in the West Bank. Additionally, hundreds of employees continue their efforts with other UN agencies.
UN’s actions on the ground
Intense airstrikes since Saturday have resulted in the displacement of nearly 190,000 people in Gaza. UNRWA is providing shelter to 137,500 men, women, and children in 83 of its 288 schools, as per the agency’s latest situation report. Tragically, 18 UNRWA facilities have sustained collateral and direct damage from airstrikes, leading to injuries and casualties.
UN’s top officials, including the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), are actively engaging with parties involved in the conflict, along with key stakeholders such as the United States, Qatar, and the European Union. The goal is to de-escalate the situation.
Along the Israel-Lebanon border, the UN peacekeeping mission, UNIFIL, is monitoring the volatile security situation. They are issuing guidance for civilians and providing updates through social media to ensure the safety of the population in the region.
3. Emergency Services
Israel’s announced blockade of vital resources in Gaza, such as food, water, fuel, and electricity on Monday, has raised concerns about food scarcity and an impending crisis. Mobile toilets and showers are being deployed to UNRWA shelters as needed.
The people of Gaza now have access to electricity for only three to four hours daily, hindering the functionality of health facilities and the treatment of the injured, according to the UN humanitarian coordination agency, OCHA.
The World Food Programme (WFP) and UNRWA are collaborating to distribute bread to those displaced and seeking refuge in Gaza’s shelters. Due to the blockade, UNRWA food distribution centres have been closed, affecting nearly half a million people (112,000 families).
WFP has initiated the distribution of fresh bread, canned food, and ready-to-eat meals to approximately 100,000 individuals in UNRWA shelters. Their plans aim to reach more than 800,000 affected individuals in Gaza and the West Bank.
Emergency healthcare services continue to be offered through a toll-free hotline across Gaza. The UN’s country-based pooled funds and its partners have released life-saving trauma and emergency drugs and medical supplies to bolster the health system in Gaza.
UNRWA health centres are operating with 125 health staff in rotating shifts, with 15 out of 22 clinics providing primary healthcare services. Relief and social services helplines remain operational, and psychosocial support and psychological first aid are being provided remotely. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is ready to offer psychosocial support expertise to those in need in Gaza and the West Bank.
6. Humanitarian Corridors
Access for humanitarian staff and supplies into Gaza has been severed this week, and the ongoing hostilities are limiting staff’s ability to deliver aid, states Lynn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory.
Nevertheless, the World Health Organisation (WHO), along with other UN agencies and partners, continues to work towards establishing a corridor to reach individuals in Gaza with critical supplies. The humanitarian community is determined to respond to the escalating crisis and deliver aid to the people in need.