WTO chief warns of ‘really big impact’ on trade if Israel-Hamas conflict widens


ROME: The UN World Food Programme or WFP has warned that crucial supplies were running dangerously low in the Gaza Strip after Israel imposed a total blockade on the territory.

“It’s a dire situation in the Gaza Strip that we’re seeing evolve with food and water being in limited supply and quickly running out,” said Brian Lander, the deputy head of emergencies at WFP, which is based in Rome.

“WFP is on the ground and is responding and we’re providing food to thousands of people that have sought shelter in schools and elsewhere across the territory. But we’re going to run out very soon,” he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross or IRCRC said on Thursday that fuel for hospital generators in Gaza would run out shortly, adding that its stocks of aid and medicine within Gaza were stranded for want of safe passage.

Besides sealing the border, the Israeli military has also launched massive air attacks on the enclave, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes.

“The people that are seeking shelter and striving to survive in this environment are only going to get into worse and worse situations as time goes on,” Lander said.

He urged both Israel and Egypt to create secure corridors for the WFP to be able to bring supplies into Gaza and to make sure UN staff could work safely in the area.

“We’ve seen a number of sites that are considered humanitarian, or clinics and schools that the strikes have hit. So, we again, we are calling on the parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law,” he said.

The UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees or UNWRA has said 11 of its staff have been killed in the conflict. 

“(It) is a terrible tragedy, and we extend our condolences to their families,” Lander said.

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