Agencies Struggle to Meet Desperate Aid Needs in Gaza


The situation in Northern Gaza is dire, with children scavenging for food and aid trucks being looted by desperate mobs. The area, home to around 300,000 people, is almost entirely cut off from the outside world. The south is crowded with displaced people seeking food, shelter, and safety. Despite Israel’s claims of doing its best to alleviate civilian suffering, the relentless military assault over the past four and a half months has left the Gaza Strip in a state of desperation.

The UN’s interim coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Jamie McGoldrick, recently visited the region and found despair widespread. He noted that security in Gaza has collapsed, with aid trucks being attacked and looted. Much of the stolen aid ends up being sold on the black market at inflated prices, making it unaffordable for most.

The UN has suspended all aid deliveries to the north after an UNRWA truck was hit by Israeli gunfire. Efforts to resume deliveries by the World Food Programme were thwarted by violent looting. The UN is in early discussions with Israel about opening up supply routes from the north. The aim is to flood the area with aid to discourage looting.

Israel maintains that it is doing everything possible to facilitate the arrival of humanitarian assistance. Since the start of the war, over 13,000 trucks carrying more than 250,000 tons of humanitarian aid have entered the Gaza Strip. However, this falls short of the 500 trucks per day that UN staff say are needed to meet the growing demands of the population.

The Israeli government has begun dismantling UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, following allegations that some of its staff were working for Hamas. The UN is investigating these claims but says Israel has yet to share its intelligence. In the meantime, Israel has started stripping UNRWA of its functions.

The prospect of an all-out Israeli assault on Rafah, threatened if Israeli hostages are not released before the start of Ramadan on 10 March, has aid workers fearing the worst. The situation in Gaza remains precarious and desperate, with little hope for those suffering.

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