Food lifeline for desperate families in Gaza at risk without fuel, WFP says

A WFP staffer hands food to a child as part of the organization's emergency response. Photo: WFP/Ali Jadallah
ROMEThe catastrophic conditions facing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza risk getting worse still, due to severe fuel shortages which threaten to bring food and other humanitarian operations to a standstill.
  “Without additional fuel supplies, bakeries working with the World Food Program (WFP) will no longer be able to produce bread. Only two of our contracted bakeries have fuel to produce bread at the moment and tomorrow there might be none,” said WFP Representative in Palestine Samer Abdeljaber. “This would be a terrible blow to the thousands of families living in shelters who have been relying on the daily bread deliveries.”
  “The people of Gaza need continuous aid delivery at a level that corresponds to the enormous needs. To ease the suffering and enable the delivery of life-saving assistance, we echo the Secretary General’s appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire,” he added.
  WFP has already assisted close to 630,000 people in shelters and in communities across Gaza and the West Bank. The assistance includes emergency food supplies, mainly canned food and fresh bread, and electronic vouchers where shops are open and have food supplies.
  On average 200,000 people in shelters receive the fresh bread provided by WFP every day but the fuel shortage is making it ever harder for bakeries to operate. On Wednesday, only 150,000 people received bread. Currently, only two WFP-contracted bakeries are working, compared to 23 at the start of the operation. They are usually producing around six times their usual quantity of bread.
  Fuel is not only critical for bakeries. It is also needed for the trucks that receive the supplies entering through the Rafah crossing and to distribute those supplies across Gaza. In addition, fuel is critical for hospitals and for water desalination and pumping stations.
  Essential food commodities are rapidly running out in Gaza’s shops. Despite more food being available at wholesalers, shops are not able to re-stock due to damaged roads, safety concerns and shortage of fuel. Around 10 percent of WFP-contracted shops have run out of food supplies.
  WFP is continuing the distribution of electronic food vouchers in Gaza and so far 88 percent of people who received the vouchers have redeemed them. But the capacity of shops to run the voucher program is diminishing as the stocks run out.