UN aid groups suspend operations in Gaza amid fuel shortage



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So as Ellen mentioned Aid groups have been pleading for more supplies and fuel saying their operations may have to end without the necessary resources Juliet Tuma is the director of communications for the UN agency that oversees the Palestinian territories and we’ve reached her in Aman Jordan Juliet it’s good to speak with you

Again thank you David when we spoke I believe it was on on Monday you said unra was at risk of stopping its operations in Gaza yesterday the commissioner general of your organization Philipe lazarini said there a risk of the agency shutting down all of its humanitarian work where are we

Now at the end of this week well very sadly today David we reached that point we could not resume our humanitarian operations we could not even go to pick up those uh very precious trucks of humanitarian assistance from the borders with Egypt there is also a Communications blackout

Across the a strip also because the telecommunications company that normally provides these Services has itself run out of fuel so you say you’ve stopped does this mean a a permanent stop is this a temporary pause is there a window where you see things uh being able to resume where are

They until we get the fuel that we need and until telecommunications networks are resumed uh only then are we bble to continue to deliver humanitarian assistance have you gotten any sense of uh if that will happen or when that might happen I know fuel has been a sticking point since the

Very beginning of of this conflict and you were given some fuel just to fuel your delivery trucks I believe this week uh but not to fuel your operations so is there any hope of that happening there’s always hope there’s always hope fuel has been used as a weapon of war in

Gaza and it should never have been the case and we the largest UN agency and the largest humanitarian organization in the Gaza Strip should never be pushed in the corner like we are now or be begging for fuel should never have happened M Mr lazarini said I believe there is a

Deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyze the unra operation is he speaking specifically about is is there Juliet we’ve been facing a multitude of restrictions and challenges since the beginning of this war it took for example two weeks to send the first truck of humanitarian assistance a very

Very tight Siege ongoing bombardments and air strikes then limitations on fuel once we finally got it it was conditional only only for anra to be able to bring in the trucks and then do what with it we have to distribute the aid that we bring in so we faced

Multiple we continue to face multiple challenges that hamper the humanitarian operation in the Gaza Strip so I think the last time we spoke there were about 800,000 people uh taking refuge in unra shelters what happens to them now that uh you don’t have the fuel and the communications capacity to to continue your

Operations well their situation is very very desperate you see they have come early on to the unrare facilities in search of safety and in search of protection and also in search of assistance because these um displaced families have left their homes almost with nothing on them so they depend

Almost entirely on Andra and the assistance that we deliver and people continue to come into our shelters in search of safety and protection given the ongoing War but but do they have food now do they have any kind of electricity proper sanitation we when last we spoke we talked about the sheer

Number of people sharing a very tiny number of toilets what happens with all of those sort of facilities and amenities yeah that’s right already two weeks ago when our commissioner General when he visited Gaza he went to one of those shelters and already little kids

Were coming to him asking for a piece of bread and a sip of water and that was two weeks ago when we were still able to deliver assistance so already the situation was very very dire back then imagine how it is now when there’s no fuel when there’s no humanitarian

Assistance and ongoing bombardments and ongoing Siege so when we spoke on Monday I believe as you said 102 of your colleagues uh had been killed in the bombardment um clearly a Communications blackout uh is an enormous challenge for an organization like yours do you have any way of knowing what’s happening with

Your people inside Gaza right now not today David not today we have lost Communications with a vast majority of our staff and since we’ve spoken the um number of colleagues killed is now 103 colleagues we have also before this blackout we have uh a number of colleagues who were unaccounted for so

We worry that in fact this number is much higher that the number of colleagues at and killed is much higher we worry that maybe some of them are stuck under the rubble um you were already operating at a very reduced capacity and with a very threadbear ability to deliver uh Aid

Compared to what you normally do outside of wartime um what happens if if your capacity to work isn’t restored in say 24 hours 48 hours from now well first of all it has to be restored so fuel needs to flow in to Gaza for anra and other humanitarian

Organizations as soon as possible and without any conditions so that we are able to continue to deliver humanitarian assistance so that bakeries are able to function so that hospitals medical facilities whatever is left of them are able to cater to the wounded and to the sick so that the water flows again right

Now David 70% 70% of people in Gaza do not have clean drinking water Julia Tuma director of communications with unra thank you so much for your time today thank you the Israeli military says it will hit Hamas all over Gaza including in the South and a spokesperson says forces

Will continue to operate at alifa which is gaza’s largest hospital that’s something relief agencies have been raising concerns about we obviously very concerned about uh further operations southbound uh by by the IDF and the and the and and the impact that would have on civilians but as as we’ve everybody

Has been saying from the UN side there’s really no place in Gaza that’s actually very safe for more on this we’ve reached Joseph Bello he is the executive director of Doctors Without Borders Joseph it’s h good to speak with you again hi again David uh I I know it’s

Been tough to communicate with your team inside Gaza and there may be some limited restoration of Communications in the last little while what’s the latest you’re hearing from your people there in particular the people at Al shifa yeah this the situation just seems to go from night nightmare to to worse

Nightmare um we’ve actually lost uh contact over the last 48 hours with with our people inside of alifa um the last we heard uh about two days ago from them the situation uh was was Dire uh my my medical colleagues were were describing how shots were being fired

Into the facility one of them reported that two nurses were hit and killed by gunfire inside that facility um they’ve they’ve run out of water completely so uh the Water Source was apparently uh hit and uh people uh patients uh were were literally screaming in their words screaming um

Due to to a lack of water and there’s no food they were eating dates um cowered in in Corners inside of rooms just to try to avoid the the shelling and and the firing uh dead bodies uh out out front uh around the compound impossible to go and move these decomposing and

Dead bodies because simply exposing yourself would be exposing yourself to to further uh fire um oxygen was hit and cut off the the generator was hit and cut off at last count um they they were informed that up to six premature babies uh that would otherwise uh survive through incubation incubation is no

Longer possible and so six six of those babies have have perished a number of people in intensive care have perished again because of the lack of of ventilator capacity and and electrical capacity so um yeah alifa is is is a place of of of pure violence at the moment and and more

Broadly uh we’ve seen essentially the health health system in all of Northern Gaza ground to a halt um when we spoke with uh Dr gasan abua a week or so ago about the situation there he he raised this concern that once the electricity supplies went uh that Al shifa was going

To become a mass grave and it sounds like uh from that Litany of grief you’ve just outlined that the hospital May finally be at that point it feels like it again you know the last 48 hours we just haven’t been able to to have contact um we have had

Uh contact with a number of my other colleagues who are uh some of them are in the msf office the msf office building has also come under Fire and uh and and shrapnel coming into to that building as well um the the extent to which any sort of Medical Care is still

Being provided at all in Northern Gaza it’s simply through the individual acts of of individual doctors and nurses who are who are staying next to their patients who refuse to leave uh their patients sides um one one one of our doctors a surgeon uh has essentially taken three young children under his

Care uh you may recall This Acronym uh WC NSF wounded child no surviving family it’s an acronym that they’ve started to use because that that reality was so common uh he has taken three young children who fall into that category under his care meanwhile he’s working

Out of Al Al Hospital uh which uh he he is apparently able to provide some measure of wound care to to a limited number of uh of patients still there but that is what the Health Care system looks like now it’s individuals uh without supplies without gauze without painkillers without water

Without electricity uh Simply Having human to human contact and evacuations have not been possible we’ve been our people have been asking and pleading uh for corridors to to evacuate themselves and and other patients in one instance in alifa in fact a few days ago one of the Medics described how people had

Tried to leave that facility to evacuate it and were fired upon uh and then he again he describes the the bodies sort of just lying there on the down grounds so it’s yeah yeah oh sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt you I thought you finished there’s about 24 hospitals in Northern

Gaza I I think we’re hearing from the UN a chief that 18 of them have shut down entirely five are limited only one the Ali Arab hospital is is operating at any capacity to take people in and Dr abua that I mentioned he said on the show

Yesterday that he made the tough choice to evacuate Al Ali Hospital which had to shut down its operating room I I mean are your doctors and other staff I mean taking in three War orphans is an extraordinary thing but but are they at a point where they may just have to

Evacuate if they can and and stop giving care is it getting there certainly the last messages coming out of from my colleagues out of alifa was please let us out uh quote we are being killed um please help uh these were the the kind of messages that were coming out of

Alifa last last we heard and they were very much in for uh for roots to evacuate now at the same time many of them have been uh super super clear uh that they refuse uh to evacuate without patients also being able to evacuate um a number apparently uh prior to Last

Friday uh apparently were able to uh evacuate and and get a little bit further south but there are still uh thousands uh of people and and many of them uh patients and many of them uh with wounds they can’t move or they’re these newborn babies or very ill people

And so yes they would evacuate they would only do so together with the patients uh and that has not been allowed uh nor is it physically possible this this message just is a final point though to to get South in Gaza um then we also see uh leaflets being dropped in

Southern Gaza telling people to get out of those parts of Southern gazin places like K hunis and all these uh sorts of areas uh there is no Surplus medical capacity in that area so even if the patients could get out there’s nowhere to absorb them um it seems increasingly

Difficult Joseph forther to find anywhere in Gaza for people to go because the ground operation seems to be poised to press even deeper into Southern Gaza at this point now a slight sliver of of hope uh a few days ago we we did manage to get 15 uh surgeons uh Medics intensive care

Uh Specialists across the Rafa Border Crossing into Southern Gaza they are now working out of Nasser Hospital in the South um and and seene patients so you know we have this we have this sliver of of Hope but indeed if you if you look at the overall situation according to the

World Health Organization now 27 hospitals uh have had to uh shut down completely the remaining nine hospitals in all of Gaza uh are are only partially functional we still have all all of the the problems of the lack of fuel and the lack of supplies and and so on but this

Is this has been utterly systematic uh you know to to just what what 152 attacks on Healthcare at last count that’s the World Health Organization saying this 152 attacks on on healthc care so there there’s something very systematic about the combination of violent attacks on healthc care facilities and The Siege Warfare that

Denies uh the the supplies and and personnel and fuel necessary to run those hospitals that is that is utterly devastating utterly contrary to International humanitarian law to the rules of War uh and that and that is why you know once again David we’re as msf taking that very unusual step of of

Calling for for a ceasefire and you know so far just having that call land on on on deaf ears uh in terms of the international political uh community that there is there is no no other humane way forward other than a complete ceasefire at this point Joseph Belo with

Doctors Without Borders uh thanks again for your time today thanks so much David

The United Nations says it needs more fuel to send aid to Gaza and has decided to suspend humanitarian assistance. Juliette Touma, director of communications for UNRWA says the group cannot resume aid until it gets fuel and until telecommunication networks are restored. Joseph Belliveau, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders, also provides an update from his colleagues at Al-Shifa Hospital.

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