The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday called for an unimpeded flow of aid into Gaza, trapped in a humanitarian crisis after two weeks of Israeli air strikes.
“We call for an unimpeded and continuous flow of humanitarian assistance and medical assistance to continue coming into Gaza,” said Tamara Alrifai, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
“The trucks that have come in so far are just a trickle in the face of the immense needs of people on the street.”
UNRWA said fuel, which has not been sent to the Gaza Strip along with the humanitarian aid, was crucial.
“Fuel is extremely urgent because without fuel, the trucks themselves cannot move,” Alrifai said. “Without fuel, the generators cannot produce electricity for hospitals, for bakeries and for the water desalination plant.”
Aid deliveries into Gaza through the Rafah crossing from Egypt began on Saturday after intense diplomatic efforts, but U.N. agencies say it is insufficient to meet the needs of the 2.3 million population.
WHO said medicines and health supplies had been delivered to three key referral hospitals in southern Gaza but that it still needed to reach the north of the Palestinian enclave, one of the most densely-populated places in the world.
“We still have not been able to reach the hospitals in the north with the medical supplies or the desperately needed fuel,” said Dr Rick Brennan, WHO Regional Emergencies Director for Eastern Mediterranean Region.
Brennan said one-third of hospitals in the Gaza Strip were now non-functional at a time when the medical burden is enormous, and that some two-thirds of clinics are not functioning.
“We are on our knees asking for that sustained, scaled up, protected humanitarian operation,” he said.
“We appeal to all of those in a situation to make a decision or to influence decision-makers to give us the humanitarian space to address this human catastrophe.”
(Inputs from Reuters)