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United Nations officials have warned that aid efforts face an imminent threat from fuel and food shortages.


Fuel trucks rolled into the Gaza Strip on Friday after five days without fuel deliveries, which U.N. officials said left hospitals and other parts of the international aid mission facing imminent closures.

The arrival of fuel has temporarily delayed the collapse, but leaders of the aid effort say reserves remain dangerously low and the hunger crisis deepens. The U.N. food agency and its main aid agency in Gaza, UNRWA, will run out of food distributed in southern Gaza on Saturday, said Georges Petropoulos, director of the U.N. aid office in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Gaza’s power grid has long since ceased, with hospitals, desalination plants and other critical infrastructure relying on fuel-fired generators to generate electricity, as well as fuel for aid delivery trucks and ambulances.

Israeli authorities said they had delivered 200,000 liters of fuel to Gaza on Friday. UNRWA, the United Nations’ main aid agency in the region, puts the figure at 157,000 litres. United Nations officials said the enclave requires about 160,000 liters per day to function properly.

But UNRWA said other vital supplies such as food and medicine had not arrived since Sunday in southern Gaza, where most people are seeking asylum.

After the fuel crossed the border into Gaza on Friday, it was unclear how much of the fuel reached its intended destination. Aid groups face huge challenges in distributing supplies in war zones where fighting rages and roadblocks and streets are riddled with craters and debris.

Just hours before Israel announced the resumption of fuel supplies on Friday, U.N. officials said disruptions had brought their humanitarian operations, particularly those providing food and health care, to the brink of collapse as malnutrition and disease worsened. Petropoulos warned that five hospitals, five field hospitals, 10 mobile clinics for treating combat injuries and malnutrition, and nearly 30 ambulances would soon cease operations.

“Humanitarian action cannot operate without fuel,” he said. He added that UN humanitarian operations would cease “within the next two days” unless a solution was found quickly to allow the delivery of fuel and other supplies to Gaza.

He added that eight of 12 bakeries in southern Gaza have ceased operations due to lack of fuel and stock, and the remaining four only have a few days left in their reserves.

“If this situation is not corrected, within days fuel shortages will bring the entire humanitarian operation to a virtual standstill,” said Hamish Young, UNICEF’s emergency coordinator in Gaza.

After months of international criticism, Israel increased aid shipments in April and early May.

But this week, Israel seized the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern part of the territory and temporarily closed the crossing in what it described as a limited operation. The invasion sparked fears of an imminent major offensive against Rafah.

Another main aid entrance, also in Kerem Shalom in the south, was closed for several days after Hamas rocket attacks nearby. U.N. officials said fuel passed through Kerem Shalom on Friday but no other aid was available.

Petropoulos told a video news conference that only a small amount of aid was coming in through the Erez crossing at the northern end of the Gaza Strip this week but could not reach the south, and that it was not enough given the scale of the need. From Gaza.

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