Tight security measures in Gaza causing food shortage, UN relief agency says
The United Nations relief agency helping Palestinian refugees today protested the tight security measures imposed in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military, saying the moves were causing a shortage in basic foodstuffs.
Lionel Brisson, the director of operations for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), called on Israel to allow the free flow of goods into the area.
"Not to do so will amount to a humanitarian strangulation of a civilian population," he warned.
UNRWA has loaned 250 tons of flour to bakeries in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip so they can keep producing bread, but those supplies will run out in a matter of days, the Agency said.
In the past three days, only four truckloads of flour, four of garlic and three of onions have been able to enter the Gaza Strip, and the Agency's own supplies for refugees were not being allowed into the area.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) today said it has airlifted nearly 40 tons of high-energy biscuits for displaced Palestinians caught up in the fighting in the West Bank.
The planeload of biscuits arrived Thursday in Tel Aviv from Italy and will be distributed immediately to displaced people as well as to institutions that have been completely cut off and without cooking facilities.
The food agency also said that in the past week it had received two important donations to its $16.7 million operation to help 371,000 Palestinians, some of whom have lost their jobs in Israel since the closure of Gaza and the West Bank.
The European Community provided $4.3 million while the United States donated $2.3 million in cash for buying fortified wheat flour, which is critically important in reducing iron deficiency in women and children, WFP said.