Last night, MPs in the UK voted against calling for a ceasefire in the conflict in Gaza and Israel, despite the numerous calls made by War Child and many other human rights and humanitarian organisations across the country.
The timing of this is particularly devastating given the recent announcement by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of the complete exhaustion of their fuel reserves, forcing the suspension of vital supplies for hospitals and other life-saving services in Gaza. Hospitals are already unable to operate incubators for newborn babies or provide care for sick and wounded children. We heard that around half a truck’s worth of fuel made it into Gaza yesterday. This is now way near enough.
Without fuel, water wells, desalination plants and wastewater treatment plants have shut down, posing a serious threat of dehydration and waterborne diseases for hundreds of thousands of Gazans. Moreover, aid brought in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing will also stop, as trucks on the Gaza side will have no fuel to operate. All communications, including internet, is also expected to cease in the coming days due to the lack of fuel needed to run generators.
Providing essential services such as water, food and healthcare is impossible without fuel. The dire situation facing civilians is about to get even worse as taps run dry and hospitals cease to function. We desperately need an immediate ceasefire which will save lives and facilitate the delivery of essential aid.War Child’s Country Director Sahar Smoom.
“Immediate action is needed to avert a complete humanitarian collapse” says Rob Williams, War Child UK’s CEO. “To everyone who voted against this amendment tonight, I would ask: how many more children need to die, how many must be robbed of their homes and families, how many must be inflicted with lifelong mental and physical scars, until you decide that enough is enough?"
This fuel crisis compounds the already severe conditions faced by civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory, where a siege imposed since 9 October has created a shortage of food and water, electricity cuts, and forced displacement. More than two-thirds of the population in Gaza (over 1.65 million people) have already been forcibly displaced by the ongoing violence, with UNWRA sheltering almost half of those displaced in severely overcrowded shelters.
Last week, the head of UNRWA Phillippe Lazzarini stressed the devastating impact on hospitals, bakeries, and water wells, and urgently called for international intervention emphasizing the inadequacy of the current humanitarian response.