GAZA – WFP has widened its emergency relief programme in the occupied Palestinian territory by distributing ready-to-eat meals to feed sick and injured patients in hospitals across Gaza. This is in addition to WFP’s normal distributions of standard rations such as wheat flour, cooking oil and chickpeas to 365,000 people affected by conflict and food shortages.
“The ready-to-eat meals offer an immediate solution to the food needs of hospital patients, who might otherwise go hungry,” said WFP Emergency Coordinator, Gemmo Lodesani. “Cooking gas is still in short supply, and without this intervention, patients might miss out on a nutritious daily meal.”
In the coming days, WFP aims to distribute more than 40,000 ready-to-eat meals that come in packages containing items such as canned meat, chicken curry, cheese and biscuits. The first tranche of ready-to-eat meals were part of a donation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in response to WFP’s “Operation Lifeline Gaza” appeal. As well as distributing the meals to hospital patients, WFP will also provide them to school children as a one-off ration.
Free school meals
Since the resurgence of conflict in Gaza on 27 December, WFP has distributed two month rations of food to more than 220,000 people. In addition, WFP is providing free school meals to 30,000 children, and has distributed one-off emergency packages including date bars, bread, high energy biscuits and canned goods to more than 150,000 people.
“As each day passes, we get closer to reaching our overall target of 365,000 people among the non-refugee population in Gaza,” Lodesani said, adding that products such as the ready-to-eat meals, and date bars manufactured in Egypt, provided a practical solution to the hunger needs of people affected by conflict.
Opening of crossings
WFP is requesting the opening of all border crossings between Israel and Gaza, as well as those between Israel and Egypt, to allow a steady flow of humanitarian assistance to those most in need. Under current conditions, an average of 70 trucks are crossing the border into Gaza each day, which is less than 10 per cent of what would be required to meet the normal commercial requirements of the people living there.
WFP is appealing for US$82.3 million to meet the emergency food requirements of the 365,000 people it is aiming to feed in Gaza. So far it has received barely 10 per cent of the funding required to support this operation.