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Increasing disease and humanitarian strain in Gaza amid aid shortages

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Increasing disease and humanitarian strain in Gaza amid aid shortages

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The UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) is continuing to provide healthcare as best it can but overcrowded shelters and limited sanitation services, coupled with forced displacement, are posing severe health risks, the agency said in a post on X.

Furthermore, safe water is unaffordable for many, and people are resorting to burning trash to cook with, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) added.

Aid operations ‘near collapse’

There are also serious concerns that humanitarian operations in the enclave “are near collapse”.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned in a bulletin that if food and humanitarian supplies do not begin to enter Gaza in “massive quantities”, desperation and hunger will spread.

“The limited functionality of the southern border crossings, key arteries for getting aid in, means that barely any fuel or aid is getting into any part of Gaza. There are currently no food distributions taking place in the south of Gaza except for some limited stocks that are given to community kitchens for hot meals,” it noted.

All bakeries in Rafah have shut down. However, as of Wednesday, the agency was still able to support six bakeries in central Gaza, four in Gaza City and one in Jabalia.

Listen below to an update on the humanitarian situation in Gaza from Shaza Moghraby, WFP Communications Officer:

Multiple allegations of torture

Also on Thursday, a UN independent human rights expert urged the Government of Israel to investigate multiple allegations of torture and other degrading treatment against detained Palestinians since 7 October last year.

Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on torture emphasized that anyone deprived of their liberty must always be treated humanely.

“They must be provided with all protections required under international human rights and humanitarian law, whatever the circumstances of their detention,” she said in a news release.

The Human Rights Council-appointed expert said she has received allegations of individuals being beaten, kept in cells blindfolded and handcuffed for excessive periods, deprived of sleep, and threatened with physical and sexual violence.

Other reports suggest prisoners have been insulted and exposed to acts of humiliation, such as being photographed and filmed in degrading poses, while prolonged use of zip-tie handcuffs has reportedly caused friction injuries and wounds.

Absence of accountability

“I am particularly concerned that this emerging pattern of violations, coupled with an absence of accountability and transparency, is creating a permissive environment for further abusive and humiliating treatment of Palestinians,” Ms. Edwards said.

Listen to UN News’ s interview with the Special Rapporteur here:

Since the brutal attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on Israeli communities on 7 October 2023 and the ensuing Israeli military offensive in Gaza, it is estimated that thousands of Palestinians from Gaza as well as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been detained – including some children.

Special Rapporteurs are mandated by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to monitor thematic human rights and country situations. They operate independent of the UN and national governments, are not UN staff and do not draw a salary.

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