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UN food agency steps up help for Gaza people

GAZA CITY: Palestinian families walk with some of their belongings through Rafah to take shelter at a United Nations (UN) school in the southern Gaza Strip city yesterday. – AFP

ROME: The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday it was providing emergency assistance for more than 51,000 people in northern Gaza and appealed for $46 million for its work in the region. Zionist air strikes hammered the Gaza Strip Monday after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian, despite international calls for de-escalation.

“For people who have lost or fled their homes, one of the most pressing needs at the moment is food,” said WFP country director Samer AbdelJaber in a statement issued by the Rome-based agency. “The quickest and most effective way we can provide support is with cash, in the form of e-vouchers.”

He said many shops were open and food was currently available in the crowded Palestinian enclave but warned the closure of crossings into Gaza “may soon cause a dearth of commodities, including food, and push up food prices”. Prices of fresh produce are already rising as farmers are unable to reach their land, the UN agency said.

The WFP said it supporting the coordination of humanitarian cargo that may need to enter the area if borders stay closed. “People in Gaza have already been living on the edge and many families struggle to put food on the table,” added WFP Middle East and North Africa director Corinne Fleischer.

“Their situation has deteriorated even further over the past year due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. “The majority of the population cannot withstand further shocks and the current situation could unleash a crisis that could spill into the entire region.” The WFP regularly supports about 260,000 people through food help, direct rations or other projects in Gaza, where it says 53 percent of people live in poverty.

It called for another $31.8 million to maintain regular food assistance to more than 435,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank for the next six months. In addition, it said it urgently needs $14 million to support emergency assistance in the next three months for 160,000 people in Gaza and 60,000 in the West Bank. – AFP

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