‘Rampant’ looting, smuggling impeding aid delivery in Gaza: UNRWA

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024

GENEVA: The head of the United Nations agency supporting Palestinian refugees warned on Monday that a breakdown of civil order in Gaza had allowed widespread looting and smuggling, and blocked aid deliveries.

More than eight months of war have led to desperate humanitarian conditions in the besieged Palestinian territory and repeated UN warnings of man-made famine there. “Gaza has been decimated,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told the agency´s advisory body.

“We have witnessed unprecedented failures of humanity in a territory marked by decades of violence,” he said, according to a written version of his closed-door address in Geneva. “Palestinians and Israelis have experienced terrible losses and suffered immensely.” Lazzarini warned that Gazans were in “a living hell, a nightmare from which they cannot wake”.

He highlighted “catastrophic levels of hunger” among Gaza´s 2.4 million citizens, which he stressed were “the result of human action”. “Children are dying of malnutrition and dehydration, while food and clean water wait in trucks,” he said.

UN agencies repeatedly warn of severe shortages of vital supplies in Gaza, exacerbated by restrictions on access by land and the closure of the key Rafah crossing with Egypt since Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side in early May. Israel says it allows aid trucks in, trading blame with the UN over why the aid is stacking up.

The UN warns that the conflict and increasingly desperation among Gazans is causing civil order to collapse, making aid delivery even harder. “The breakdown of civil order has resulted in rampant looting and smuggling that impede the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid,” Lazzarini said.