UN agencies says fuel restrictions hamper aid efforts in Gaza


Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS, 19th Nov. UN agencies on Saturday warned that fuel restrictions are hampering aid efforts in Gaza.

WHO led a “very high risk” mission to Al-Shifa Hospital after reports of fresh attacks on UN schools and rising needs over 1.5 million displaced Palestinians in the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis.

UN agencies said that fuel deliveries for aid operations in Gaza to 2.3 Palestinians, have been largely prohibited since Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October left at least 1,400 dead and 240 taken hostage.

This has severely hampered aid efforts, water and electricity supplies, UN agencies said.

WHO led a mission to the Al-Shifa Hospital, where thousands of civilians were seeking shelter alongside medical crews who were scrambling to tend to patients

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on social media “The team saw a hospital no longer able to function: no water, no food, no electricity, no fuel, medical supplies depleted,”

“Given this deplorable situation and the condition of many patients, including babies, health workers requested support to evacuate patients who cannot receive lifesaving care there anymore.”

He called “a very high-risk assessment mission”, he said WHO is working with partners to develop an urgent evacuation plan and ask for full facilitation of this plan.

“We continue to call for protection of health and of civilians,” he said. “The current situation is unbearable and unjustifiable.”

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UNRWA said in a statement that Israeli authorities approved only half of the daily minimum fuel requirements for humanitarian operations in Gaza,

“Humanitarian organizations should not be forced to make tough decisions between competing lifesaving activities,” he said.

Over 11,000 Gazans have been killed and thousands others wounded since the conflict began, according to the latest situation report by the UN humanitarian agency.

The lack of fuel has led to communications shutdowns, shuttered water stations, hospital closures and reduced aid deliveries across Gaza, OCHA  stated.

The situation has worsened since Israel closed all borders for aid deliveries into Gaza and a deal with Egypt, allowed limited shipments two weeks later through the Rafah crossing.

Israel authorized 120,000 litres to be delivered on Saturday, which will only cover half of daily critical needs. UNRWA was informed that the same amount would be delivered every two days.

UNRWA chief said current approved fuel deliveries into Gaza are not enough.

Mr. Lazzarini said “This is far from enough to cover the needs for desalination plants, sewage pumps, hospitals, water pumps in shelters, aid trucks, ambulances, bakeries and communications networks to work without interruption”.

Fuel should not be restricted for these activities.”

He said that without the full amount of fuel people will have only two thirds of their daily needs of clean drinking water.

Mr. Lazzarini said without adequate fuel supplies, large parts of Gaza will continue to be flooded with sewage increasing risks of diseases, and 70 per cent of solid waste will not be removed, posing “a major health hazard”.

OCHA reported that “with no fuel, public sewage pumping stations, 60 water wells in the south, a desalination plant in the middle area, the two main sewage pumps in the south, and the Rafah wastewater treatment plant have all ceased operations in the past few days.”

UN agencies said that fuel shortages make it impossible to deliver lifesaving aid at a time when needs are soaring.

“We are forced to handle a reduced number of aid trucks crossing daily into Rafah,” he said.

“The last few days have seen a drastic reduction in these services including water availability and sewage clearance with serious consequences on people in need.”

It called for “adequate, regular, and unconditional delivery of fuel to maintain all our critical lifesaving activities in the Gaza Strip”, he said “humanitarian aid cannot be conditional and must not be used for political or military agendas and gains”.

According to media reports indicated fresh attacks on schools.

Adele Khodr, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a social post that the scenes of carnage and death after attacks on Al-Fakhoura and Tal Al Zaatar schools in Gaza that killed many children and women are horrific and appalling.

She wrote “These horrible attacks should cease immediately,”. “Children, schools and shelters are not a target. Immediate ceasefire needed now!”

Mr. Lazzarini reacted to reports of attacks on an UNRWA school that was sheltering thousands of displaced from northern Gaza.

“These attacks cannot become commonplace, they must stop,” he said in a social media post on X. “A humanitarian ceasefire cannot wait any longer,” he concluded



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