UN agency for Palestinians says barred from N.Gaza aid deliveries

AFP , Monday 25 Mar 2024

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has said that Israel had definitively barred it from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest.

Volunteers cook meals for people breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan in a mass iftar (fast-breaking) meal organised by members of the Barbara refugee camp, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 24, 2024. AFP


"Despite the tragedy unfolding under our watch, the Israeli Authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any @UNRWA food convoys to the north," Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency, said Sunday on X.

"This is outrageous & makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man made famine."

UNRWA director of communications Juliette Touma told AFP the decision not to approve deliveries to the north had been relayed in a meeting with Israeli military officials on Sunday.

It followed two denials in writing for convoy deliveries to the north last week. No reason for the decision was given, Touma said.

'Decision must be revoked'

Gaza faces dire humanitarian conditions as a result of Israel's war that began nearly six months ago.

Last week a UN-backed food security assessment warned that famine was projected to hit the north of Gaza by May unless there was urgent intervention.

UNRWA has not been able to deliver food to the north since January 29, Touma said.

"The latest decision is another nail in the coffin" for efforts to get desperately needed aid to Gazans reeling from war, Touma said.

Martin Griffiths, head of the UN humanitarian coordination office, said on X on Sunday that UNRWA "is the beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza".

"The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked," he added.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said on X that blocking UNRWA aid deliveries was "in fact denying starving people the ability to survive".

Earlier Sunday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an end to the "non-stop nightmare" endured by Gaza's 2.4 million people in the territory's worst-ever war.

Israel has accused UNRWA staff members of participating in the October 7 operation and called the agency "a front for Hamas".

Touma said Israeli authorities on Sunday also rejected a UN request to send a team to Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza, where fighting has flared for almost a week, "to evacuate people who are injured".

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