Iraqi PM welcomes UNSC decision to end mandate and tasks of UN assistance mission

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ROME: Since Israel invaded the city of Rafah, daily life in parts of the southern Gaza Strip has become “apocalyptic,” while the situation in the north is improving, the UN food organization said on Friday.
“The exodus from Rafah that we have seen over the last 20 days or so has been a stunning and horrifying experience for many, many people,” said Matthew Hollingworth, World Food Programme (WFP) director for the Palestinian territories.
They have fled the fighting to areas where there is not enough water, medical care or fuel, where food supplies are scarce, telecommunications have come to a standstill and there is not enough space to dig pit latrines, Hollingworth said in an online briefing.
The public health situation is “beyond any crisis,” he said, adding: “The sounds and smells of everyday life are horrific and apocalyptic.”
People “go to sleep with the noise of war … and they wake up with the same noises,” he said.
The WFP is able to provide “less and less assistance” because all bakeries in Rafah are closed due to a lack of fuel and supplies, he said.
From May 7 – when Israeli tanks and troops entered eastern Rafah – to May 20, “not a single WFP truck crossed the southern corridors from Egypt,” Hollingworth said.
The WFP also lost access to its main warehouse in the south of the Gaza Strip because it was located in an evacuation zone. 2,700 tons of food were either looted or destroyed in fighting.
Hollingworth said the WFP is providing hot meals to around 27,000 people in Rafah – “but that is not enough.”
In the central areas of the Gaza Strip, where many people have fled, the WFP distributes around 400,000 hot meals every day and keeps six bakeries running.
Although commercial food is also coming to the region, many people have no money and some even have to exchange their identity cards, which they need to register for aid.
Hollingworth said aid trucks from Egypt had begun entering the Gaza Strip through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom border crossing.
“We have been gradually receiving aid since May 20,” he said, but warned that the security situation was still slowing down deliveries.
“This must result in a flood of aid if we want to prevent the worst forms of hunger from becoming more common,” he said.
In the north of the Palestinian territory, however, where UN organizations warned of impending famine in March, the situation is improving, according to Hollingworth.
Since the border crossings were opened on May 1, around 12,000 tons of relief supplies, mainly food, have been delivered.
“There has been a fundamental change in food availability,” he said. However, problems in the areas of health care, drinking water supply and sanitation remain.
The United States built a temporary pier to Gaza, but it was damaged in bad weather, forcing deliveries to be suspended.
In the two weeks the pier was open, about 1,000 tons of relief supplies from various agencies were transported across the pier, Hollingworth said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was doing everything it could to prevent famine in the Gaza Strip. He cited a study that found that the calorie intake in the area was 3,200 per day – more than enough.
“I have not seen anyone in Gaza, neither aid workers nor people, eating protein bars that contain 3,000 calories or more,” Hollingworth said.
The Gaza war was triggered by the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7. According to a count by the AFP news agency based on official Israeli figures, 1,189 people were killed, most of them civilians.
The militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom are still in the Gaza Strip. According to the army, 37 of them are dead.
According to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-controlled area, at least 36,284 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel’s retaliatory offensive in Gaza.

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