UNRWA suspends Gaza food distribution

UN agency: Border closure has exhausted Gaza flour supply; report: Gaza unemployment rises to 49%.

UN aid to palestinians 2 (photo credit: AP)
UN aid to palestinians 2
(photo credit: AP)
UNRWA announced on Thursday that, effective immediately, it would stop distributing emergency food aid in the Gaza Strip. According to a press release issued by the United Nations agency Thursday morning, the decision was made after the blockade on Gaza "exhausted all stocks of flour" in the UN warehouses. The statement said that the most recent wheat shipment, which was scheduled for December 9-10, was prevented from entering the area due to the general border closure. In the weeks leading up to the end of the ceasefire between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel, which is set to expire on Friday, terrorists have notably increased their attacks, with over 40 rocket strikes since Tuesday. The UN relief agency said that the suspension of its aid distribution would be in effect until further notice. A total of 750,000 refugees out of a population of 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip depend on food assistance from UNRWA, the agency said. On average, the agency distributes food to about 20,000 refugees per day. Meanwhile, a UN report said the closure of Gaza had created a "profound human dignity crisis." The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Gaza's 1.4 million people were increasingly preoccupied with obtaining basic supplies such as water and food. According to the report, unemployment now stands at 49 percent, up from 32% a year ago. It also said residents of Gaza City were without power for up to 16 hours a day, half the city's residents received water only once a week for a few hours and 80% of the drinking water was substandard.