Crescent Kashmir

Gazans face cold, starvation, disease as supplies dry up

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• WFP and WHO issue dire warnings as three days pass without fresh aid deliveries
• Nine killed in Rafah strike

GAZA: UN aid deliveries to Gaza were suspended on Friday due to shortages of fuel and a communications shutdown, with the World Food Programme (WFP) warning that civilians faced the “immediate possibility of starvation” due to a lack of food supplies.

For a third consecutive day, no aid trucks arrived in Gaza. An Egyptian security source said three fuel trucks were ready to cross from into Gaza on Friday, but an aid official inside the enclave said there was no confirmation that more fuel would be brought in.

With the war about to enter its seventh week, there was no sign of any let-up despite international calls for a ceasefire or at least for humanitarian pauses.

Gaza health authorities say more than 11,500 people are confirmed dead, 40pc of them children, with many others trapped under rubble. They have not been able to update that toll for several days because of a lack of communications.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said a number of Palestinians were killed and others injured in an Israeli strike that hit a group of displaced people near the Rafah border crossing.

Al Jazeera cited sources as saying that nine people were killed in the strike. It also said that at least 18 Palestinians were killed after an Israeli strike hit a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Cold and starvation

Nearly the entire Gazan population is in desperate need of food assistance, said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.

“With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” she said in a statement.

A UN human rights official said Israel must allow water and fuel into Gaza to restart the water supply network.

“Every hour that passes with Israel preventing the provision of safe drinking water in the Gaza Strip, in brazen breach of international law, puts Gazans at risk of dying of thirst and diseases,” Pedro Arrojo-Agudo said.

The World Health Organisation said on Friday it was very worried about the spread of disease in Gaza, citing more than 70,000 reported cases of acute respiratory infections and over 44,000 cases of diarrhoea, far more than expected.

Another aid corridor?

Israeli officials claimed on Friday to have authorised the delivery of two tankers of diesel fuel daily to the besieged Gaza Strip, in response to a US request.

Tel Aviv has come under increasing international pressure as the UN warned this week its aid work in Gaza could not continue as fuel reserves ran out.

Separately, Cyprus and Israel are close to reaching an agreement to open a humanitarian aid corridor from the Mediterranean island to the war-torn Gaza Strip, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said on Friday.

Under Nicosia’s plan, aid would be collected, inspected and stored in Cyprus and sent to Gaza on ships checked daily by a joint committee including Israel.

The proposal aims to bolster humanitarian relief provided to Gaza by sending large volumes on ships rather than the limited and sporadic deliveries of trucks through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2023

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