Workers at WFP's Ashkelon warehouse in Israel unload sacks of wheat flour to be shipped to Gaza. (Copyright: Bruno Stevens/Cosmos)
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran announced on Saturday that Operation Lifeline Gaza, a campaign launched one week ago at Egypt's border with Gaza to raise awareness and resources for the victims of the conflict, has already helped WFP deliver urgently needed nutritious food in Khan (south), Der el Balah (centre) and Gaza City.
Sheeran's announcement came during the opening session of the Private Sector and Civil Society Forum, which is the pre-event to the Arab League of States first Economic, Social and Development Summit that brings together leaders of private sector, government civil organizations and United Nations agencies to discuss key issues affecting the region.
‘We need to scale up a massive global effort to ensure that the people in Gaza have secure access to food, water and electricity,’ said Sheeran. Operation Lifeline Gaza is an USD81 million appeal for critically needed food and logistics for 365,000 people in peril.
Sheeran’s call for support not only included WFP, but the other two agencies that have limited access on the ground - UNRWA and the Red Crescent. In her call for action, Sheeran outlined a series of new innovations that are being deployed including the delivery of 80,000 ready-to-eat meals; the immediate shift from delivering wheat grain to wheat flour to the bakeries that remain open; the distribution of two months of food rations to 137,000 people; the deployment of three mobile storage units to facilitate UNRWA distribution of food as close as possible to the people in need; and the opening of WFP sub offices at crossings into Gaza.
“It’s an almost complete breakdown of food supply and distribution system with an estimated 88 percent of the people in Gaza dependent on food assistance,’ said Sheeran. ‘The consequences for all the people, but particularly for the 800,000 children, are pervasive and profound.’
Sheeran called on the participants of the conference, which included the private sector and government officials, to help. The needs are great: cash to purchase food as fast as possible and locally, when available, to help restore local market and to provide cash vouchers to people to purchase food in the market; ready-to-eat meals in order to continue to support people without any cooking facilities; other food commodities such as vegetable oil, wheat flour, chick peas, sugar, salt and canned meat.
Since the beginning of the crisis, WFP immediately activated its logistics cluster which is in charge of coordinating the movement of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. To date, 3,500 metric tons of different commodities have been delivered.