New Delhi, Jan 19: UN humanitarian agencies are sounding the alarm over the worsening situation in Gaza, describing the level of assistance for many residents as "almost catastrophic." The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported intense Israeli bombardment into Gaza and simultaneous rocket fire into Israel by Palestinian armed groups.
According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the ongoing violence has severely hindered the distribution of aid relief, with efforts reaching little beyond Rafah in the southern part of the Strip. Over 1.2 million people in this area are now living in dangerously overcrowded conditions under plastic sheeting.
Abeer Atefa, WFP MENA Senior Communications Officer and Spokesperson, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, "Areas beyond Rafah, it’s almost catastrophic assistance," echoing the repeated pleas for increased access by other UN agencies attempting to reach all five Gaza governorates.
Despite planned missions by humanitarian agencies in the first two weeks of the year, only one in four successfully delivered lifesaving supplies north of Wadi Gaza, as Israeli authorities denied the rest, according to OCHA.
The UN aid wing highlighted that two additional missions coordinated with Israeli authorities couldn't be completed due to non-viable routes or excessive delays at checkpoints, preventing success during safe operating windows.
With more than 160 Gazans reported dead and 350 injured in the last two days alone, the total number of Palestinians confirmed killed since the conflict erupted now exceeds 24,400, according to OCHA. Three Israeli soldiers were also killed in recent clashes, bringing the total Israeli soldiers death toll to 191 since October 7.
The devastating impact of the war has left only one of the three water pipelines from Israel to Gaza operational, warns OCHA. The Deir al Balah water pipeline urgently needs repairs, with estimates suggesting it could take up to four weeks, even with sustained access and necessary supplies.
UNICEF's Deputy Chief, Ted Chaiban, who recently visited Gaza, expressed deep concern over the conditions, stating, "Since my last visit, the situation has gone from catastrophic to near collapse." He urged an immediate end to the killing of children, emphasizing that nearly 25,000 reported deaths in Gaza include up to 70% women and children. Gaza, according to UNICEF, is now described as the most dangerous place in the world for a child.