UN appeals for $2.8 billion to help Palestinians enduring Israeli attacks

UNITED NATIONS  -  The United Nations has appealed for $2.8 billion to provide desperately needed aid to 3 million besieged Palestinians, stressing that tackling looming famine amid Israeli attacks against Gaza requires not only food but sanitation, water and health fa­cilities. Andrea De Domenico, the head of the UN humanitarian office for Gaza and the West Bank, OCHA, told a news briefing that “massive operations” were required to restore those services and meet minimum standards — and “this can’t be done during military operations”.

He pointed to the destruction of hospitals, water and sanitation facili­ties, homes, roads and schools, add­ing that “there is not a single univer­sity that is standing in Gaza.”

The development came amid re­ports of ongoing Israeli bombard­ment of the Gaza Strip including Gaza City in the north, Rafah in southern Gaza and central Gaza, where more than dozen people were believed to have died in an apparent missile at­tack on a refugee camp on Tuesday.

Video images reportedly from Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah showed injured and dead victims in­cluding children after the strike on the Maghazi refugee camp in the cen­tre of the enclave.

Wednesday’s appeal covers assis­tance to 3.1 million people between now and the end of the year. It en­visages helping 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip where food insecurity experts have warned that imminent famine looms in the north after more than six months of intense Israeli bombardment and a ground offensive, launched in response to the Hamas at­tacks in southern Israel last October.

“Famine is imminent in the north­ern governates and projected to oc­cur anytime between now and May 2024; more than half the population of Gaza is facing catastrophic levels of hunger,” OCHA said, adding that markets lacked basic food items and relied on informal suppliers offer­ing aid rations. “A concerning trend identified is the rise of reselling hu­manitarian aid in markets, particu­larly informal street vendors, many of whom are young children.”

Leading the appeal, OCHA noted that the funding request covered the requirements of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which continued to be “the backbone” of the humanitarian response in Gaza and the West Bank. “Two thirds of the population of Gaza - 1.6 million people - are Palestine refugees reg­istered with UNRWA,” OCHA said, adding that nearly one million of the 1.7 million displaced people now sheltered across 450 UNRWA and public shelters, or in the vicinity of the UN agency.

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