UN says food trucks being intercepted as hunger grows in Gaza

GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency said on Thursday that crowds of hungry people were stopping its aid trucks in Gaza and helping themselves to the food, making it almost impossible to continue delivering aid.

“People are stopping aid in trucks, taking the food and eating it right away. And this is how desperate and hungry they are,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner-general, told reporters at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

This means that hundreds of thousands of people in overcrowded U.N. shelters in southern Gaza are sometimes deprived of food because it is intercepted before they arrive, Lazzarini said, speaking after a trip to Gaza.

“Hunger has now emerged over the last few weeks and we meet more and more people who haven’t eaten for one two or three days,” he added.

“Because there is more and more of a breakdown of civil order and as long as humanitarian assistance remains a crumble compared to the immensity of the needs, the more this tension will continue, the more the environment is becoming impossible,” he said.

The U.N. World Food Programme says half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million is starving as Israel’s military assault on the southern part of the enclave expands and people are cut off from food, medicine and fuel.

(Reporting by Emma Farge, Editing by Rachel More and Angus MacSwan)