Telecom shutdown in Gaza ends, was longest since crisis began


People check the damage caused by an Israeli strike at the al-Mughazi refugee camp in Deir Balah of the central Gaza Strip on Nov. 5, 2023. [Xinhua]

UN humanitarians said on Tuesday that telecommunications, including internet services, were partially restored in southern Gaza, ending the most extended shutdown since the onset of the crisis.

"These recurrent interruptions and the lack of electricity hinder access to vital information and severely affect humanitarian relief efforts," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update.

OCHA said the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that since the beginning of December, it distributed high-energy biscuits to about 600,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in designated shelters. In addition, WFP distributed food parcels or wheat flour to about 110,000 IDPs during the past two weeks.

"Between Dec. 12-17, only two of our humanitarian partners were able to operate in the northern area of Gaza due to the security situation," OCHA said. "They distributed food to more than 46,000 IDPs in shelters. In the south, 11 of our partners have provided food to some 2.5 million people over the past week."

The UN Children's Agency reported delivering nutrition supplements for more than 60,000 children in shelters and supplements for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

OCHA said its humanitarian partners distributed 2,300 kitchen kits, nearly 57,000 blankets and more than 27,000 mattresses in the south of Gaza. But there is still a significant shortage of shelter materials ahead of winter, including tents and plastic sheeting.

The office said the aid crossing into Gaza does not meet a fraction of what's needed.

"We need uninterrupted and unconditional flows of basic commodities into Gaza. For that, we need the conditions to deliver aid safely inside Gaza wherever people need our support," OCHA said. 

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