Gazans in their own words: ‘We need everything. We need safety. We need peace’
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Umm Ibrahim Qanenish’s home is destroyed. She is among people living in fear in displaced communities where parents are unable to comfort their hungry, crying children. Hers is one among many voices in Gaza that are so little heard, as the death toll from a conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people – including more than 4,000 children – continues to rage.
“People are living in a horrific nightmare,” said World Food Programme Executive Director Cindy McCain. “Food and water are running out. A steady flow is needed to meet the desperate needs now. Humanitarians must be able to deliver it safely and civilians must be able to reach it safely. Without this, lives will be lost and conflict will spread.”
WFP has reached more than 700,000 people with cash, bread and ready-to-eat meals in the past few weeks in Gaza, but we are meeting just a fraction of mounting humanitarian needs, with truckloads of assistance unable to cross the Rafah border with Egypt.
“I used to wonder how people who receive WFP assistance survive with the scant supplies they have,” said one WFP staff member in Gaza.
“Now I know first-hand – although I think no coping mechanism could help even the most resourceful through these days… The war is eating away everything we know: people, buildings, hopes for a better future. The non-stop sound of bombs falling over the city – skipping our heads by luck – drills into my brain, draining me of sleep and the last drop of sanity I am holding on to.”
All of WFP’s staff on the ground are under extreme duress. Out of 23 bakeries supported by WFP, only one survives. Together they served 200,000 people. Now there is only enough bread for 20,000 people.
WFP spoke with people across Gaza where the need for food, medications and other life-sustaining support is desperate. This is what they said.
‘We have sought refuge in schools to feel safe, but the food supplies here are not enough for the people… We suffer from many things here in the school. The place is very crowded, people are still coming and there are no longer enough places for more displaced people.’
Umm Ibrahim Qanenish
‘I was in the living room and suddenly everything was falling down. I couldn’t see anything… dust and smoke filled the air and all the glass in the house shattered and fell where I was sitting’
‘We need everything. We need safety, we need peace. We need the necessities for life. Water. Food…medicines for children. All of Gaza suffers. My fear is for my children. My fear is for my relatives. My fear is for my neighbours. I fear for all of Gaza…I hope the country will return, job opportunities will flourish..and security and safety will prevail throughout Gaza’.
‘We are suffering, every day we are suffering. We are no longer familiar with vegetables. Tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes have all been erased from our lives completely. We only have bread and water to quiet the kids so they sleep at night.’
‘Getting food is hard. You go to the market, there are no vegetables, in shops there’s not enough stock, no fuel, no gas.’