Some Gazans are so desperate for food that they are now stopping aid trucks and immediately eating what they find, the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees warned Thursday.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva upon his return from Rafah governorate, Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner General, said people were “desperate, hungry and terrified” 69 days after the start of Israeli military bombardments in response to the bloody Hamas attacks on October 7 in southern Israel.
Despair, not diversion
Hunger is something Gazans have “never, ever experienced” in their troubled history, the senior UN official continued.
“I saw with my own eyes that people from Rafah decided to use the truck (carrying aid) directly out of total desperation and eat on the spot what they took from the truck… This did not nothing to do with the diversion of aid,” said Mr. Lazzarini.
Only a significant increase in humanitarian aid to the enclave will prevent a worsening of the already disastrous humanitarian situation there – and a feeling of betrayal and abandonment on the part of the international community –, insisted the head of UNRWA, calling for the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel for commercial vehicles and the lifting of the “siege” of Gaza.
The Rafah governorate, near the Egyptian border, has now become “the epicenter of displacement” with more than a million people seeking refuge there, Lazzarini said. UNRWA facilities are extremely overcrowded, meaning tens of thousands of people have “absolutely nowhere to go”.
“The luckiest are those who have a place in our premises,” he says, especially now that winter has started. Those who are outside must live in the open air, “in the mud and in the rain.” »
Fear of being forgotten
Lazzarini said Gaza residents feel their lives “are not equal to those of others” and feel “human rights and international humanitarian law do not apply.” their. »
He highlighted the feeling of isolation that prevails in the enclave, stressing that the inhabitants “only aspire to security and stability”, wishing for a normal life from which they are “very far at the moment”.
“What continues to shock me is the ever-increasing level of dehumanization,” he said, lamenting that some may “applaud the wrongdoing in this war… What is happening in Gaza should outrage everyone.” the world” and make us “rethink our values,” he insisted.
“This is a defining moment for all of us and for our common humanity.”
“I am horrified by the smear campaign targeting Palestinians and those who provide aid to them,” he said, urging the media to “help us fight disinformation and inaccuracies” and stressing that fact-checking is essential.
“In suffering, there is no competition. Ultimately, in this war, there will be no winner; the longer it lasts, the deeper the losses and grief will be,” he added.
“There is absolutely no alternative to a genuine and proper political process to end once and for all the longest unresolved political conflict, 75 years without resolution. It’s time for this to become a priority. Peace and stability is what the region deserves.”