Skip to content

Telecommunications Outage Hinders Humanitarian Relief in Gaza

Telecommunications went down in Gaza again yesterday and the outage continues today, hampering the distribution of humanitarian relief. The outage, which is being attributed to the lack of fuel for emergency communications networks, has caused aid agencies to halt cross-border deliveries of humanitarian supplies even as they warned that people may soon face starvation, reported The Associated Press

Gaza is now receiving only 10% of its needed food supplies daily, and dehydration and malnutrition are growing with nearly all of the 2.3 million people in the territory needing food, Abeer Etefa, a Mideast regional spokeswoman for the World Food Program, told AP on Nov. 16. “People are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” she said from Cairo. With few trucks entering Gaza and no fuel to distribute the food “there is no way to meet the current hunger needs. The existing food systems in Gaza are basically collapsing.”

The breakdown of the communications network, which is crucial for coordinating aid deliveries, meant a further worsening of the situation. The UN Relief and Works Agency, which serves the needs of Palestinian refugees, said no aid deliveries would be able to enter southern Gaza from Egypt today. “We have seen fuel and food and water and humanitarian assistance being used as a weapon of war,” said UNRWA spokeswoman Juliette Touma.

“Supplies of food and water are practically non-existent in Gaza and only a fraction of what is needed is arriving through the borders. With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” said World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain, reported the WAFA news agency. “There is no way to meet current hunger needs with one operational border crossing. The only hope is opening another, safe passage for humanitarian access to bring life-saving food into Gaza.”

Of the 1,129 trucks that have entered Gaza since the opening of the Rafah border crossing on Oct. 21, only 447 were carrying food supplies. “While WFP welcomes the increase in the number of trucks crossing into Gaza, the volume remains woefully inadequate: the food that has entered Gaza is only enough to meet 7% of the people’s daily minimum caloric needs,” WFP said. The food infrastructure in Gaza is no longer functional; only 25% of shops contracted by WFP remain open and others have run out of essential food items. Local markets have shut down completely. The small quantities of food that can be found are being sold at alarmingly inflated prices and are of little use without the ability to cook, forcing some to survive on one meal a day.

“The collapse of food supply chains is a catastrophic turning point in an already dire situation, where people have been stripped of basic necessities,” said Samer Abdeljaber, WFP Representative and Country Director in Palestine.