With only ten percent of necessary food supplies entering Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, the Strip now faces a massive food gap and widespread hunger as nearly the entire population is in desperate need of food assistance, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned.
“Supplies of food and water are practically non-existent in Gaza and only a fraction of what is needed is arriving through the borders. With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain. “There is no way to meet current hunger needs with one operational border crossing. The only hope is opening another, safe passage for humanitarian access to bring life-saving food into Gaza.”
WFP confirmed the closure of the final bakery operating in partnership with the agency due to a lack of fuel. Fuel shortages have triggered a crippling halt in bread production across all 130 bakeries in Gaza. Bread, a staple food for people in Gaza, is scarce or non-existent.
The shortage of fuel is also crippling humanitarian distribution and operations, including the delivery of food assistance. Even as trucks arrived from Egypt and offloaded supplies in Gaza they were unable to reach civilians in shelters because of insufficient fuel for distribution vehicles.
Of the 1,129 trucks that have entered Gaza since the opening of the Rafah border crossing on 21 October, only 447 were carrying food supplies. While WFP welcomes the increase in the number of trucks crossing into Gaza, the volume remains woefully inadequate: the food that has entered Gaza is only enough to meet 7 percent of the people’s daily minimum caloric needs.
The food infrastructure in Gaza is no longer functional; only 25 percent of shops contracted by WFP remain open and others have run out of essential food items. Local markets have shut down completely. The small quantities of food that can be found are being sold at alarmingly inflated prices and are of little use without the ability to cook, forcing some to survive on one meal a day. For the lucky, that includes more than solely canned food, though some people have resorted to consuming raw onions and uncooked eggplants.
“The collapse of food supply chains is a catastrophic turning point in an already dire situation, where people have been stripped of basic necessities”, said Samer Abdeljaber, Representative and Country Director in Palestine. “Without access to fuel, our ability to provide bread or transport food to those in need has been severely compromised, essentially bringing life in Gaza to a standstill. People are going hungry.”
Since last month, WFP has provided emergency food assistance to over 700,000 displaced people in Gaza and plans to scale up food assistance to reach over one million people in the next few weeks. However, this can only happen with increased, sustained supply corridors into Gaza, the ability to rotate staff in and out with safe humanitarian access, and additional support from donors.