GENEVA – Global calls for a “humanitarian pause” in the Israel-Hamas war have gone unheeded, preventing anything more than a trickle of humanitarian aid from entering Israeli-besieged Gaza as shortages of food, fuel, drinking water and medicine worsen.
Here is a rundown of what some U.N. agencies call a “humanitarian catastrophe” enveloping the tiny Hamas-ruled enclave of 2.3 million people.
Some 1.4 million people – more than half of the population, have fled their homes with nearly 700,000 sheltering in buildings run by the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), according to the U.N. humanitarian office (OCHA).
Israel has called on civilians in north Gaza – the heart of Hamas’ forces – to evacuate to the south for their own safety, though the south has also been hammered by Israeli air strikes that have killed and injured non-combatants.
OCHA says shelters are overcrowded at nearly four times their intended capacity, with tens of thousands of other Gazans taking cover in hospitals.
Over a third of Gaza’s 35 hospitals are not functioning and those still in service report dire fuel shortages that have severely reduced their electricity supply, the World Health Organization says.
The Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital in Gaza City which treats cancer patients has run out of fuel and is no longer operational, according to WHO.
Rescue teams from the Palestinian Civil Defence have been forced to curb their ambulance fleet for lack of fuel, causing a desperate resort to donkey carts to take casualties to hospital.
At least 10 trucks brought aid including water, food and medicines into Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Nov. 1, bringing the total number of trucks since the limited reopening of the crossing on Oct. 21 to 227, OCHA said.
But humanitarian aid deliveries from the south to displaced people in the north stopped following Israel’s ground invasion, it said.
One of three water supply lines to Gaza from Israel has been restored for the first time since Oct. 8, according to OCHA. Two seawater desalination plants are running at 40% of capacity and some wells are operating, enabling some households to receive water for a few hours a day, as well as limited truck deliveries.
Aid groups say fuel is urgently needed to distribute aid and to power hospitals, bakeries and desalination plants. But the entry of fuel remains banned by Israel which says it could be diverted to Hamas for military purposes. REUTERS
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