Global perspective Human stories

UN launches 'Operation Lifeline Gaza' to feed thousands of hungry

UN launches 'Operation Lifeline Gaza' to feed thousands of hungry

A Palestinian child eats home-made bread in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Very few bakeries in the Strip still have flour to make bread.
The United Nations food agency today announced an initiative to help ramp up food distribution to the growing number of hungry people in the Gaza Strip, where a military offensive Israel says it launched in response to Hamas rocket attacks is in its 15th day.

Operation Lifeline Gaza is a World Food Programme (WFP) scheme aiming to provide ready-to-eat, culturally acceptable food to hundreds of thousands of people caught in the conflict.

“We are proposing an immediate, innovative solution to hunger in an unusually challenging situation, where many people are suffering from a complete breakdown in access to food and clean water,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

“Even in the limited windows of opportunity when we can distribute food we have to remember that many people lack the means to cook and prepare meals for their families,” said Ms. Sheeran, who went to the Egyptian border with Gaza on Friday.

As of yesterday, the violence had already killed an estimated 792 people and wounded over 3,200 in the occupied Palestinian territory, according to reports cited as credible by UN officials.

“We are in the business of feeding hungry people in difficult situations - in earthquake zones, droughts, or after tsunamis - but Gaza presents one of the toughest challenges we have faced because access to the hungry is so limited,” said Ms. Sheeran

Ms. Sheeran announced Operation Lifeline Gaza after meeting yesterday with the head of the Egyptian Red Crescent, Suzanne Mubarak, and the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry, Rachid Mohamed Rachid.

The Egyptian government, which gathered a large number of companies in Cairo at the launch of the new initiative, has pledged to facilitate the proposal by offering assistance to businesses that can provide food to WFP.

WFP has made repeated appeals for a rapid expansion of humanitarian access to Gaza as its staff has continued working throughout the conflict, providing food assistance to more than 75,000 people despite the high levels of insecurity.

While WFP has sufficient food stocks to feed around 360,000 people for the next three weeks, the heavy fighting has limited the possibility of wide-scale distributions. Many truck drivers and fork lift truck operators have been unwilling to work fearing for their safety and the civilian population is often too frightened to go to food distribution points.