The World Food Programme (WFP) Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau said he was shocked by the fear, the chaos, and the despair he encountered during his visit to Gaza on Friday, where he witnessed the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinians living under a crippling blockade and constant bombardment.
Skau, along with WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, Corinne Fleischer, and Palestine Country Director, Samer AbdelJaber, entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people and to support their staff, who have been working tirelessly to provide food assistance to over one million Gazans.
Skau described the scenes of confusion, hunger, and desperation he saw at the warehouses, distribution points, supermarkets, and shelters, where thousands of people were struggling to survive. He said he heard the dull thud of bombs throughout the day, adding to the sense of fear and insecurity.
He also shared some of the stories he heard from the people he met, such as a woman who lived with nine other families in one apartment, taking turns to sleep at night, and a group of people who were cutting down trees in a cemetery to use as firewood.
Skau said he was impressed by the resilience and dedication of the WFP staff and their families, who asked him about the future plans and prospects for peace. He said he had no clear or easy answers, but he assured them that WFP would continue to stand by them and the Palestinian people.
However, he also warned that the situation in Gaza was no longer tenable, and that any meaningful humanitarian operation was impossible without a ceasefire and a lifting of the blockade. He said that WFP faced many challenges in delivering food to Gaza, such as the limited number of border crossings, the shortage of fuel, the disruption of communication systems, and the lack of security for the staff and the beneficiaries.
He said that people in Gaza were desperate, sick, and hungry, and that a recent WFP survey showed that many of them were not eating at all. He said that WFP had food on trucks, but it needed more than one crossing and free and safe passage to reach the Palestinians wherever they were.
He urged the international community to act urgently to end the conflict and the suffering of the people in Gaza, and to support WFP and other humanitarian agencies in their efforts to save lives and restore dignity.