Senior WFP official warns of ‘catastrophe’ in southern Gaza as conflict continues

An official with the UN’s food agency says he he believes a “water and sanitation catastrophe” is taking place in southern Gaza as the war between Hamas and Israel continues across the strip. 

Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme Carl Skau said the agency’s main concern was in the south where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced from the city of Rafah. 

“Here we have really a protection disaster and a water and sanitation catastrophe. And, you know, people are camping on the streets, on the beach, at best with some piece of shelter. But, you know, we were driving through rivers of sewage,” he said.

Skau also said that trucks carrying WFP aid have been stuck waiting to move through border crossings in Gaza.

“We are stuck at different checkpoints, between five and eight hours per day,” Skau claimed.

“This is an area where there is now an ongoing military operation and to move around in a safe way, we need clearances.”

Those comments come on the same day as UNICEF told the BBC that one of their convoys had been denied entry into northern Gaza despite having all the necessary documents.

Palestinians in Gaza are facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies.

UN agencies say over one million people in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Meanwhile, ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas have stalled again with Washington saying it doesn’t expect an agreement in the near future due to the fact that a globally supported US-backed proposal has not been fully embraced by either side.

Speaking at the G7 summit in Italy, where current world conflicts are the main topic, US President Joe Biden told reports that he “hadn’t lost hope”.

An injured Palestinian girl is treated at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah, June 14, 2024

As Israeli bombing continued in the Gaza strip, this week Hamas proposed modifications to a US-backed peace proposal aimed at ensuring a permanent cease-fire and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Biden’s proposal includes these provisions, but Hamas has expressed scepticism about Israel’s commitment to implementing them.

Israel’s war against Hamas, which was launched last October, has killed more than 37,260 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, but it does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

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