Saturday, December 2, 2023

“Gaza is being strangled”: UN relief agency head

Addressing the dire situation in the Gaza Strip, Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, emphasized Gaza is rapidly running out of water and electricity, and the population faces severe shortages of food and medicine.

“Gaza is being strangled and it seems that the world right now has lost its humanity. If we look at the issue of water — we all know water is life — Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life,” Lazzarini said.

Asked by a journalist during a news conference about the restoration of water in the southern Gaza, Lazzarini stated:

“We haven’t been able yet to confirm. My understanding is that if there is restoration of the water, it would primarily impact Khan Younis or half of Khan Younis. So, it would not cover to south of Khan Younis or the people in Rafah. But again, this is a report that we need to confirm. And for the time being our colleagues on the ground are not able to confirm this information.”

He described an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe with thousands seeking shelter in UNRWA facilities, while resources are stretched to the limit.

“The number of people seeking shelter in our schools and other UNRWA facilities in the south is absolutely overwhelming, and we do not have, anymore, the capacity to deal with them,” he added.

Lazzarini noted the blockade, which he said started 16 years before the recent conflict, had already placed a significant burden on the population, with more than 60% relying on international food assistance.

According to UNRWA, 14 of its staff members have been killed, and many others are displaced or affected by the ongoing crisis, Lazzarini continued.

He called for an immediate end to the hostilities to prevent further loss of life, the lifting of the siege, and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to provide essential supplies such as fuel, water, food, and medicine.

The commissioner general stressed the importance of upholding international humanitarian law, emphasizing all wars must abide by its principles.

The chief of the UNRWA has also issued a stark warning on the organisation’s ability to continue to deliver assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people in need in Gaza.

“My UNRWA colleagues in Gaza are no longer able to provide humanitarian assistance,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told the press conference at UNRWA headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem.

“The UNRWA operations is the largest United Nations footprint in the Gaza Strip, and we are on the verge of collapse. This is absolutely unprecedented.”

Lazzarini noted water and power supplies were running out, and soon there would be no food or medicine either, adding, “We all know water is life – Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life.”

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