WFP says operations in Gaza halted after UNRWA warehouses looted, communications ceased

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The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Sunday that it was forced to suspend its operations in the Gaza Strip following the robbery of warehouses of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and a communications blackout in the region.

A communications blackout has been reported in the Palestinian exclave since Friday night when the Israel Defence Forces announced the expansion of ground operations in Gaza.

The breakdown in communications disrupted emergency services and cut off contact with the UN staff delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, the UNRWA said that thousands of people had stormed its warehouses and distribution centers in Gaza, grabbing wheat flour and basic survival supplies.

“The morning’s events followed a harrowing 24-hour communication blackout and persistent access challenges that brought all WFP operations to a halt, leaving staff and partners incommunicado … Without additional fuel supplies, bakeries working with WFP in Gaza are no longer operational and transporters cannot deliver food where it’s needed,” the organization said in a statement.

The statement added that there were about 80 tonnes of mixed food commodities, mainly canned food, wheat flour and sunflower oil in the looted warehouses.

“We need a humanitarian pause to be able to reach the people in need with food, water and basic necessities safely and effectively.

Much more access is urgently needed, and the trickle of supplies needs to become a flow,” WFP Representative and Country Director in Palestine Samer Abdeljaber noted.

On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip and breached the border, killing and abducting people in neighbouring Israeli communities.

Israel launched retaliatory strikes and ordered a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, home to more than 2 million people, cutting off supplies of water, food, and fuel.

The blockade was later eased to allow trucks with humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

The escalation of the conflict has resulted in thousands of people killed and injured on both sides.

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