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UNRWA suspends food distribution in Rafah over Israel military operation

Displaced Palestinians receive flour bags at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, Jan. 28. On Wednesday, UNRWA announced it had suspended food distribution in the city over Israel's military operation and a lack of supplies. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
Displaced Palestinians receive flour bags at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, Jan. 28. On Wednesday, UNRWA announced it had suspended food distribution in the city over Israel's military operation and a lack of supplies. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

May 22 (UPI) -- The United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees said it has suspended the distribution of food in the southern Gazan city of Rafah due to ongoing Israeli military operations and a lack of supplies.

Its situation report for Wednesday states Israel's ongoing military operation in eastern Rafah has made inaccessible UNRWA's distribution center and the World Food Program's warehouse, both of which are located in the southern city.

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It continued that the military operation was also affecting the delivery of humanitarian supplies into the Palestinian enclave, stating in the last two days only 48 trucks have entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel and the Rafah crossing with northern Egypt.

COGAT, Israel's agency overseeing Palestinian lands, said in a statement that 298 trucks of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza on Wednesday via Kerem and the Erez crossing, which is located in northern Gaza.

"We have a lot of people on the ground ready to provide aid and provide services, but without access across the borders to any supplies and without access to our distribution centers, we are simply unable to distribute food," UNRWA spokesperson Louise Wateridge said Wednesday.

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WFP said it would continue to distribute food until it ran out.

"Thousands of families still in #Rafah need aid," it said on X. "With little aid coming in from southern crossings & our warehouse still inaccessible, remaining food stocks have only supported 50K hot meals a day.

"We need safe & sustained access."

Humanitarian supplies have been a constant need for Palestinians in Gaza amid the now seven-month-old war between Iran-backed Hamas and Israel.

The war has internally displaced an estimated 1.7 million of the enclave's more than 2 million people, according to the U.N.'s human rights office said.

Around half of the population was estimated to have been sheltering in Rafah until May 6 when the Israel Defense Force began its controversial military operation in the city.

On Wednesday, UNRWA estimated that nearly 815,000 people had fled the city since the campaign began.

"Most UNRWA shelters in Rafah have been vacated, with internally displaced people moving to Khan Younis and Deir Al Balah," it said in its update Wednesday.

World Central Kitchen returns to work in Gaza

Local volunteers for the U.S.-based aid group World Central Kitchen prepare food to be distributed to needy Palestinians in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 3, 2024. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

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