UN refugee director: Needs in Gaza ‘immense,’ aid ‘meager and inconsistent’ — By: Catholic News Agency

Workers prepare to distribute medical aid and medicines to Nasser Medical Hospital in the city of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, which recently arrived through the Rafah crossing on Oct. 29, 2023, in Khan Yunis, Gaza. / Credit: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

CNA Staff, Oct 30, 2023 / 11:16 am (CNA).

A director of a United Nations agency assisting refugees in the war-torn Gaza region warned on Sunday that aid to the stricken populace there is insufficient to meet what he described as the “immense” needs of civilians caught in the conflict. 

The U.N. said in a press release on Sunday that “thousands of desperate people” had “stormed U.N.-operated warehouses and other aid distribution centers” in the area, taking food and “basic survival goods” amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Thomas White, the director of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Affairs in Gaza, said in the press release that the chaos indicated “civil order is starting to break down” in the region. 

People there “feel that they are on their own, cut off from their families inside Gaza and the rest of the world,” White said. 

“Supplies on the market are running out while the humanitarian aid coming into the Gaza Strip on trucks from Egypt is insufficient,” White said. “The needs of the communities are immense, if only for basic survival, while the aid we receive is meager and inconsistent.”

White said that to date just over 80 trucks of aid crossed into Gaza in a single week. 

“The current system of convoys is geared to fail,” White claimed, calling the lack of trucks, slow process, and other difficulties “a recipe for a failed system.”

“We call for a regular and steady flow line of humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip to respond to the needs especially as tensions and frustrations grow,” White told the U.N. news service. 

Samer Abdeljaber, a representative with the U.N. World Food Program, likewise called for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict so that aid workers could bring critically needed supplies to civilians.

Aid workers need “to be able to reach the people in need with food, water and basic necessities safely and effectively,” Abdeljaber said in the release. “Much more access is urgently needed, and the trickle of supplies needs to become a flow.”

Aid workers and international organizations have been struggling to bring critical supplies to civilians caught amid the conflict, which began on Oct. 7 when the terrorist group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, shelling the country and invading its borders while killing hundreds. Israel quickly declared war against Hamas.

European Union leaders last week called for “humanitarian corridors and pauses” in the region so that supplies could reach civilians, a demand echoed by numerous leaders including religious heads and aid workers.

The group Aid to the Church in Need warned earlier this month that the region was facing “devastation” if aid corridors were not opened for supply workers to move through.

Read More