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Gaza: Operational Update - 16 January 2009

• WFP has launched Operation Lifeline Gaza, a global appeal to ramp up the distribution of food to people caught in the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories. Operation Lifeline Gaza also aims to meet the growing hunger needs by providing ready-to-eat, culturally acceptable food to hundreds of thousands of people. 

• WFP estimates that due to additional needs brought on by the conflict, it is launching a one-year emergency operation (EMOP) to provide food assistance to a further 100,000 people, raising its caseload to 365,000, or 80 percent of the non-refugee population of the Gaza Strip. The EMOP will require funding of US$81.2 million. 

• Continuing fighting and problems with access are hampering WFP’s efforts to reach its beneficiaries. There is a vital need for all crossing points into Gaza to be reopened and for an enduring ceasefire to allow WFP and its cooperating partners to scale up distributions. 

• The announcement by the Israel Defence Force that it is extending the daily lull in military activities from three hours to four hours is welcomed, but it is still insufficient time for WFP to meet the needs of its beneficiaries. This will only be possible when the fighting stops. 

• WFP has succeeded in delivering 3,755 metric tons of food into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing since 27 December. A further 85 truckloads (3,000 tons) are ready for dispatch through Kerem Shalom. 

• Over and above its regular caseload, WFP has delivered canned meat and high energy biscuits (HEB) to 13 Gaza hospitals, enough for 6,000 patients and staff for up to one month. WFP is also distributing ready-to-eat food (bread, canned meat, HEB) to overcome the scarcity of cooking gas. In addition, WFP is planning “meals-ready-to-eat” (MREs) to 16,000 people in UN Relief and Works Agency shelters and 7,000 people in hospitals as an emergency response for up to 12 days.