A truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been extended to six days and aid agencies are using the pause in fighting to ramp up aid deliveries into the besieged enclave.
Under the terms of the deal, more aid is flowing into Gaza, with the first deliveries shipped to the north, providing relief to residents cut off from outside help for over a month during the Israeli military campaign.
But aid agencies say it is not enough to meet the needs and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that disease could kill more people than bombs. The World Food Programme “reiterates that a six-day long pause is not enough to make any meaningful impact”.
Around 1.8 million people of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million are estimated to be internally displaced. About 1 million are staying in shelters run by the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA), according to the UN humanitarian office (OCHA).
Shelters are overcrowded and at more than four times capacity, with tens of thousands of civilians having fled south to escape the bulk of Israeli bombardments in recent weeks.
The WHO says that nearly three-quarters of hospitals, or 26 out of 36, have shut down entirely in Gaza due to bombing or lack of fuel. Most of the hospitals in northern Gaza have ceased functioning.
Aid groups have evacuated patients and health workers from some of those hospitals during the truce and further transfers are planned in coming days, OCHA says.
The WHO has also used the truce to transfer southwards thousands of vaccines that were at risk of spoiling in northern Gaza due to the lack of power.
The Rafah Crossing into Egypt re-opened for limited aid supplies on 21 October and all other crossings into Gaza remain shut. Daily truck deliveries into Gaza since the truce began are about 200 a day, which is more than double the previous average.
A French warship has docked in Egypt and could start treating wounded children from Gaza later this week, the Defence Minister said.
Aid distribution in areas south of Wadi Gaza has accelerated during the pause in fighting. Still, aid agencies are calling for more crossings to open to meet the needs, described by OCHA as “immense”.
Cooking oil has been allowed in during the truce, although OCHA said queues extended for about two kilometres in Khan Yunis.
Food and water
One World Food Programme bakery has resumed operations, allowing the provision of bread to about 90,000 people in UN shelters in the south, OCHA says.
Shortages of drinking water continue to be reported across the Gaza Strip, despite fresh deliveries of water under the terms of the truce. The WHO says cases of diarrhoea in children aged five and older had surged to more than 100 times normal levels by early November.
About twice the amount of fuel (130,000 litres) is allowed into Gaza each day under the terms of the truce.
Key service providers, including hospitals, water and sanitation facilities and shelters for displaced people have continued receiving fuel on a daily basis to operate generators, OCHA says.
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