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Fuel has run out, stalling humanitarian operations in Gaza, warn aid agencies

Oxfam Australia 2 mins read

Aid agencies operating in Gaza issued an urgent warning that fuel reserves critical for aid operations have run out, bringing the limited assistance delivered in Gaza in recent weeks to a complete halt.

On Monday 13 November 2023, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced that their last remaining fuel reservoir had been exhausted, rendering an aid response impossible and accelerating the current humanitarian catastrophe to unimaginable proportions.

Hospitals and health facilities, already severely crippled, and in many cases besieged and under frequent fire, are staring down the barrel of total dysfunction, unable to provide even the most basic medical services to critically ill and injured patients. Without fuel, preventable deaths already anticipated due to access impediments will skyrocket, and the suffering of the populace will reach unfathomable levels.

The two remaining water distribution plants will cease to function in the coming few hours, leaving 2.2 million people with no potable water. This is not just a collective punishment and a violation of basic human rights but an imminent public health disaster. It also means no waste or sewage removal. The people of Gaza, already enduring unbearable hardships, now face a colossal escalation of health risks, including accelerated outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

Without fuel, the few trucks of aid that had trickled in over the last few weeks - Gaza’s only remaining lifeline for delivering essential life saving supplies - are completely immobilized. Moreover, without any fuel to telecom power generators, we expect another complete communications black out, severing communications with humanitarian colleagues with no line of sight into when communications can resume.

Aid agencies have already been forced to triage the use of fuel to either power hospitals or provide access to water. Soon neither will be possible.

We urge all parties to recognize and uphold their obligations under international law. These include the duty to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance and the protection of the rights of civilians in conflict zones. The decision by the Government of Israel to withhold and restrict essentials like electricity, water, internet, phone connections, and crucially, fuel, constitutes a violation of these obligations.

The international community must act collectively and decisively to ensure the uninterrupted flow of aid and the fuel required to deliver it, safeguarding the dignity and rights of all affected civilians.

These impediments to a critical and principled aid response are political and must be addressed through urgent diplomacy. Immediate and decisive action is required to avert a complete humanitarian collapse in Gaza.

Notes to editor

The Association of International Development Agencies – Jerusalem, is the main umbrella of international non-governmental organizations working in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). AIDA is a membership body and coordination forum representing more than 80 international non-governmental and non-profit organizations working in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). 

UNRWA says its Gaza fuel depot is now empty, warns of further shutdowns.
 

For interviews, contact Lucy Brown on 0478 190 099/ lucyb@oxfam.org.au

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