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WhatsApp Image 2024-06-07 at 15.04.48-min © Action contre la Faim



In Gaza, our intervention is subject to an unprecedented level of challenges and constraints


On May 1, 2024, J.G. was deployed for four weeks to respond to the emergency in Gaza, and more specifically in Rafah, where he assisted Action Against Hunger’s operations by providing operational and logistical support including procurement, supply, and distribution, a key role to ensure aid can reach the people that needs it most. Due to ineffective humanitarian access, deteriorating security conditions, and a continuously changing context, Action Against Hunger, who’s been present in Gaza since 2005, and countless other humanitarian organizations, have had to repeatedly adapt their operations to safeguard lives and access those most in need.

What struck you when you arrived in Gaza?

What struck me most when I arrived in Rafah was the density of tents on the sand. There isn’t an empty space left. These makeshift settlements, sometimes built from wood and tarpaulins, are the only accommodation to entire families who left their homes with nothing and now find themselves living in very basic conditions. Some people who no longer know where to live have even moved into completely destroyed buildings.

Along the road between Rafah and Deir el Balah, the town where Action Against Hunger now has its main base, most of the buildings have been destroyed. Since the May 7 offensive, the eastern part of Rafah has seen a high level of destruction, which is currently continuing. In other towns, such as Khan Younis, not a single building has been spared.

What is Action Against Hunger doing in Gaza?

We have organized water deliveries by truck, an emergency mode of transport that is generally a short-term solution to save lives. Clean water is essential for hygiene and cooking and prevents the spread of water-borne diseases. Before the conflict, most water in Gaza was treated in desalination plants or pumped from wells — both of which require fuel to operate on a daily basis. But fuel, like other supplies in the Gaza Strip, is in desperately short supply. For instance, in the days following the May 7 offensive, most organizations were preparing to suspend their activities due to lack of fuel.  In addition to delivering safe drinking water by truck, Action Against Hunger has distributed hygiene kits, mattresses, blankets, pillows and carpets to the most vulnerable families.

What little food there is in Rafah comes from farms or a few private commercial trucks. In recent weeks, however, market prices have soared, and the population is gravely short of cash. A cylinder of gas for cooking costs between $300 and $500 on the markets, and the quality of the food supply varies according to the arrival of private commercial trucks. Therefore, the population is largely dependent on humanitarian aid for their survival.

Currently, over half a million children and mothers need nutritional assistance, and roughly half the population of the Gaza Strip — which amounts to over a million people — is facing starvation. To prevent malnutrition, rations of a food supplement called LNS (Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplements), have been distributed by our teams. In addition, Action Against Hunger recently launched a health and nutrition program, where our staff conduct community outreach to screen potential cases of malnutrition, assess needs, and offer trainings to prevent and respond to increasing levels of malnutrition and food insecurity.

As a logistician, what was your role during this deployment?

The first few days of my arrival coincided with the start of the Israeli offensive on Rafah on May 7. From the base, I heard bombardments that were quite close to where we were, and I had the impression that everything was going to collapse.

In anticipation of the offensive, we had to urgently relocate our base from Rafah to Deir al Balah, a town 20 km north. We converted a building into an emergency warehouse, enabling us to relocate our stocks and continue our activities, albeit at a smaller scale. We also set up a camp to house our entire team (around twenty people and their families), most of whom were staying at our premises. Within 24 hours of this relocation, we were up and running again. 

As a humanitarian logistician, in addition to managing the supply chain, which includes purchasing, and managing storage and transport to ensure that our aid reaches the people who need it most, I provide all the necessary support to Action Against Hunger’s teams in Gaza. This includes finding and managing buildings for the teams to work in and ensuring the continuation of energy supplies and telecommunications. I’m also responsible for managing the fleet of vehicles and drivers, as well as safety and risk mitigation for the teams. However, despite the scrupulous observance of safety regulations, no place in Gaza can be described as safe.

What are the main obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid?

It is essential that priority be given to the distribution of aid by land and road, including all border crossings such as Rafah, Kerem Shalom, Erez and Karni. However, this is often limited by numerous constraints and the repeated closure of certain crossing points. For example, the Rafah crossing has been closed since May 7, leaving thousands of trucks stranded on the other side of the border in Egypt.

The road is the only way for aid to reach a large part of the population. Airdrops and sea corridors are no substitute for efforts to guarantee safe, unhindered land access and previously open border crossings that have since been closed.

In Gaza, our intervention is subject to an unprecedented level of challenges and constraints in terms of international supplies, fuel requirements, security management and humanitarian coordination. If these constraints persist or worsen, our ability to intervene, and that of other humanitarian organizations, will be all the more limited. 


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