Gaza aid will only last two more days and operations are 'crumbling', warns UNRWA chief

UN agency says people are hungry and it is only providing 'crumbs' for nearly one million civilians in Gaza

People stand in the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Friday. Getty
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Aid operations in Gaza will only last for two more days and “meaningful and uninterrupted" supplies are needed for the besieged area, the UN warned on Friday.

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said aid currently entering the heavily bombarded enclave was “crumbs”.

“Our aid operation is crumbling. For the first time ever they report that people are hungry. We certainly cannot last more than two days,” Mr Lazzarini said.

The UN official said “people in Gaza are dying, soon many more will die because of the siege”.

Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping more than 200, according to Israeli officials.

In response, Israel launched air and artillery strikes, killing more than 7,000 people, including 2,913 children, according to figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry.

It has also put the entire enclave of 2.3 million people under total siege.

“The current system in place is geared to fail. What is needed is meaningful and uninterrupted aid flow. And to succeed, we need a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure this aid reaches those in need,” Mr Lazzarini said at a press conference in Jerusalem.

The UN official said the Palestinian death toll given by the ministry had proved to be “credible” in previous conflicts, after Washington raised doubts about the latest figures.

“In the past, the five, six cycles of conflict in the Gaza Strip, these figures were considered as credible and no one ever really challenged these figures,” he said.

The commissioner also confirmed 57 of the agency's staff had been killed during the war.

“At least 57 colleagues of mine are confirmed killed,” Mr Lazzarini said. “Wonderful people who have just dedicated their lives to their communities.”

He suggested the ratio of UNRWA staff killed to the total number of agency workers was in line with the ratio of Gazans killed to the territory's overall population, as provided by the ministry.

“We have more or less the same percentage,” he said.

The siege means that holding back food, water and fuel and basic commodities is being used to collectively punish millions of women and children, the UN official said.

“Intense negotiations and endless shuttle diplomacy to open a humanitarian supply line. So far it has only resulted in a handful of aid convoys. This will not reverse the fact that Gaza is being strangled,” Mr Lazzarini said.

The UN official said the world has turned its back to Gaza as civilians trapped inside face “one of the darkest hours".

Mr Lazzarini said civilians are taking their anger out on UN officials.

“The anxiety and anger of those displaced in UNRWA shelters has been taken out on my colleagues as people are understandably angry, hungry and frustrated," he said.

Gaza's civil defence creaking under the pressure

Gaza's civil defence creaking under the pressure
Updated: October 27, 2023, 12:14 PM