The average Palestinian in Gaza is living on 2 pieces of bread a day, UN official says

by Lucas Garcia
fokus keyword: Gaza humanitarian crisis

According to a United Nations official, the harsh reality for the average individual in Gaza is survival on a mere two pieces of Arabic bread daily—a stark illustration of the escalating humanitarian crisis. These bread rations come from supplies pre-positioned by the United Nations in the enclave, overshadowed now by the critical scarcity of water echoing through the streets, as reported by the Gaza Director for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Thomas White, having conducted extensive travels throughout Gaza recently, painted a grim portrait of the region, marred by devastation and peril, where no location can assure safety. The populace is engulfed by trepidation over their well-being, their future, and the grim prospect of sustaining their families.

To address the crisis, UNRWA has extended support to approximately 89 bakeries across Gaza, with the objective of distributing bread to around 1.7 million inhabitants. This endeavor was outlined by White in a video conference to diplomats from the full spectrum of the U.N.’s 193 member states.

The pressing need for water has transcended the urgent demand for bread, as White underscored. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that the quest for potable water has become paramount.

Lynn Hastings, the U.N. Deputy Middle East Coordinator and the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories, noted the severity of the water crisis, with only a third of the water supply conduits from Israel remaining operational.

Hastings revealed that the populace is left with no choice but to rely on brackish or saline groundwater for consumption. This bleak scenario was part of the briefing which also featured comments from U.N. Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths, who mentioned ongoing intense negotiations involving Israeli, Egyptian, American, and United Nations authorities to facilitate the entry of fuel into Gaza.

Griffiths emphasized the critical nature of fuel for vital functions such as medical care, water, and electricity distribution, advocating for consistent and reliable supply channels into Gaza.

Highlighting another dire consequence, Hastings mentioned the imminent shutdown of backup generators across essential institutions, including hospitals, water desalination plants, and food production facilities, due to the depletion of fuel reserves.

White further elaborated on the magnitude of the crisis, citing the untreated sewage being discharged into the sea. He expressed concerns that once fuel reserves were exhausted, sewage would inundate the streets.

Cooking gas, previously supplied by Egypt via the private sector before the conflict, is now in critical shortage. White made it clear that organizations like UNRWA are not equipped to replace the complex distribution systems managed by the private sector for such essential supplies.

The situation for displaced persons is particularly severe, with approximately 600,000 individuals seeking refuge in 149 UNRWA establishments, predominantly schools. White detailed the squalid conditions faced by these displaced populations, with inadequate resources to maintain hygiene standards, women and children sleeping within classroom confines, and men out in the open.

With over 50 UNRWA facilities damaged in the conflict, including direct hits on five, White admitted the inability of the U.N. to ensure the safety of those in its shelters. He expressed a grim outlook, with 38 reported deaths in these shelters and expectations of the toll rising amid ongoing combat operations in the north.

Griffiths lamented the loss of 72 UNRWA staff members since the onset of the conflict on October 7, denoting it as one of the heaviest losses of U.N. personnel in a conflict zone.

With a reported death toll exceeding 9,000 in Gaza, Griffiths stressed that the final casualty figures might only be ascertainable post-cleanup of the debris. He called for humanitarian pauses to deliver aid to millions in need, advocating for the release of all hostages and the protection of civilians as mandated by international humanitarian law.

The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made repeated appeals for an outright ceasefire. In contrast, the Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour critiqued the suggestion of mere humanitarian pauses, which he equated to brief respites amidst ongoing fatalities, underscoring the urgent necessity for a ceasefire to prevent further loss of life.

Mansour condemned the extensive destruction wrought upon infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, describing the current conditions faced by Palestinians as indescribably dire and pressing for concerted efforts to halt the devastation.

For additional reporting on this ongoing conflict, visit AP’s dedicated coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword: Gaza humanitarian crisis

What is the current living situation for the average person in Gaza?

The average person in Gaza is currently surviving on two pieces of Arabic bread daily, as per the United Nations supplies, and now faces an acute water shortage. The crisis has escalated to the point where the search for potable water has overshadowed the need for food.

How is UNRWA supporting the people of Gaza amid this crisis?

UNRWA is supporting approximately 89 bakeries across Gaza with the aim of distributing bread to about 1.7 million people. They are also providing shelter to nearly 600,000 people in 149 facilities. However, the situation is dire, with sanitation and safety being significant concerns, and resources are stretched thin.

What are the major concerns highlighted by the U.N. officials regarding Gaza’s crisis?

Major concerns include the scarcity of water, the impending shortage of fuel and cooking gas, the halting of sewage treatment leading to potential sewage overflow in the streets, and the lack of electricity and water supply which is threatening the operation of hospitals and other essential services.

What has been the impact of the conflict on UNRWA facilities and staff in Gaza?

Over 50 UNRWA facilities have been impacted by the conflict, including five direct hits. As a result, 38 people have died in UNRWA shelters, and there is fear that this number will increase. Additionally, 72 UNRWA staff members have been killed since October 7, marking a significant loss of U.N. personnel in a conflict.

What is being done to facilitate the delivery of aid and essential supplies to Gaza?

Intense negotiations are underway involving Israeli, Egyptian, American, and United Nations authorities to enable the entry of fuel into Gaza, which is crucial for hospitals and for the distribution of water and electricity. There are also calls for humanitarian pauses to deliver aid to millions in need, the release of hostages, and the protection of civilians.

What is the position of the Palestinian U.N. Ambassador on the situation in Gaza?

The Palestinian U.N. Ambassador, Riyad Mansour, emphasizes that a cease-fire is essential to save lives. He has criticized suggestions of humanitarian pauses, stating they are inadequate and equate to brief intervals in the ongoing attacks. He also points to the extensive destruction in Gaza, with nearly half of all structures being damaged or destroyed, making the situation incomprehensible and necessitating immediate action to stop further devastation.

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Anna Lee November 4, 2023 - 1:32 pm

I can’t even imagine what its like for families there, having to worry about basic things like drinking water, fuel for hospitals and even where to sleep safely – the international community really needs to step up.

Michael O'Reilly November 4, 2023 - 5:07 pm

its really shocking to hear that UN staff are being killed too, that’s a new level of danger for the people trying to help and it makes you wonder how aid workers keep going in such conditions.

John Smith November 5, 2023 - 2:49 am

this article really puts things into perspective the situation in Gaza is dire and it’s hard to believe that in 2023 we’re still seeing such a humanitarian crisis. people living on just bread and the lack of water is just unthinkable.

Linda Harris November 5, 2023 - 4:37 am

reading about sewage in the streets and hospitals running out of fuel, it’s just heartbreaking. those poor people and what’s worse, it seems like the world just watches and doesn’t do enough to help gaza.

Dave Miller November 5, 2023 - 6:11 am

i saw the figures on the deaths and just had to pause… it’s just to much. And the Ambassador’s comments on ceasefires, he’s right, how can we talk about pauses when theres so much destruction happening continuously.


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