Gaza aid worker testimony - OCHA - 25 June 2024
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Edited News | OCHA

Gaza aid worker testimony - OCHA - 25 June 2024

Gazans “holding on by a thread”, UN aid worker’s harrowing testimony shows

A UN humanitarian freshly back from Gaza described on Tuesday seeing families dig makeshift septic tanks with spoons and shell-shocked toddlers who lost limbs under Israeli bombing, amid continuing obstacles to aid delivery.

After three months spent in the enclave over the course of two deployments, Yasmina Guerda, humanitarian affairs officer with the UN’s aid coordination office OCHA came back with “stories that will haunt [her] for the rest of [her] very privileged life”.

“We really, really should not speak about living conditions” in the Strip because no Gazans have “living” conditions, she told reporters in Geneva. “What they have, if you look closely, is survival conditions. And barely. They’re holding on by a thread.”

Ms. Guerda gave reporters a glimpse of the daily reality of a population which has “lost nearly everything” in the grips of mass forced displacement with “no centimetre” that is safe in Gaza. “You have 10 to 15 minutes to leave your building because it’s going to be bombed. Your kids are sleeping in the room next door. You wake them up, they whine... And you have to make split-second decisions to decide what to pack, what’s essential,” from birth certificates to baby formula, she recounted, stressing that this has been the experience of scores of “people who lived in Gaza city, in Jabalia, in Khan Yunis, in Deir el Beleh, and now Rafah”.

She also spoke of the horrific aftermath of the bombing of Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza earlier this month as part of an Israeli military operation to release hostages held by Hamas, in which some 270 people were killed and 700 injured according to Gaza’s health authorities. “We were working a couple of kilometers away, and the walls, doors and windows of our building were shaking,” she said. Among the hundreds of people “maimed for life” as a result of the two-hour bombing, she spoke of the children who lost limbs and whom she met the next day at the nearby hospital, “many of whom reminded me of my own two little toddlers,” she added

“They were staring into the void – too shell-shocked to produce a sound or a tear,” she said.

Compounding the horror is the dramatically insufficient aid access in the enclave, where humanitarian delivery remains “a puzzle” amid “ongoing fighting, the public order and safety vacuum” as well as “regular attacks” on aid storage facilities, administrative challenges and hours spent waiting at checkpoints.

Describing the water and sanitation crisis in the Strip, Ms. Guerda spoke of the harrowing experiences of families whom she’s seen “dig makeshift septic tanks with spoons, using toilets and pipes from destroyed buildings so they could have a little bit of privacy and hygiene near their tents”.

The lack of fuel is hampering not only aid delivery, but also protection efforts including humanitarians’ ability to reach unaccompanied children on the move, Ms. Guerda warned. Moreover, mass displacement from Rafah since the beginning of Israel’s offensive there on 7 May meant that people lost access to the malnutrition screening centres which humanitarians had set up there. As a result, there are “thousands of children who were being followed or who were being screened that all of a sudden we lost track of,” she said.

Hunger is prevalent in Gaza and according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report published on Tuesday, the situation in the enclave “remains catastrophic” with a “high and sustained risk of famine across the whole Gaza Strip".

The report found that 96 per cent of the population is facing “acute food insecurity at crisis level or higher (IPC Category 3+), with almost half a million people in catastrophic conditions (IPC Category 5)”.

Ms. Guerda insisted that desperate Gazans urgently “need decision-makers to finally make a decisive gesture to put an end to the relentless way in which they are being knocked down after every attempt to get back up”.

“And they need the support of the rest of the world to do that,” she concluded.

-ends-

STORY: Gaza aid worker testimony - OCHA

TRT: 2:21”

SOURCE: UNTV CH 

RESTRICTIONS: NONE 

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS 

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 

DATELINE: 25 JUNE 2024 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND 

 

1. Exterior wide shot: Palais des Nations, Flag Alley.  

2. Medium lateral shot: Speakers at the podium of the press conference from behind; speaker on screen in the Press room.

3. SOUNDBITE (English) – Yasmina Guerda, humanitarian affairs officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):We really, really should not speak about living conditions there because none of them have living conditions. What they have, if you look closely, is survival conditions. And barely. They’re holding on by a thread.”

4. Wide shot: Journalists, cameraperson and technicians in the Press room.

5. SOUNDBITE (English) – Yasmina Guerda, humanitarian affairs officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):You have 10 to 15 minutes to leave your building because it’s going to be bombed. Your kids are sleeping in the room next door. You wake them up, they whine, probably. And you have to make split-second decisions to decide what to pack, what’s essential. And how do you define “essential”? Birth certificates, IDs, baby formula?”

6. Wide lateral shot: Journalists in the Press room; speaker on screen.

7. SOUNDBITE (English) – Yasmina Guerda, humanitarian affairs officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):The children who lost limbs that I met the next day at the nearby hospital, many of whom reminded me of my own two little toddlers: they were staring into the void – too shell-shocked to produce a sound or a tear.”

8. Medium shot: Journalists in the Press room.

9. SOUNDBITE (English) – Yasmina Guerda, humanitarian affairs officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):Delivering aid in Gaza is a daily puzzle, across the board. You know it all: the ongoing fighting, the public order and safety vacuum, the insufficiency of absolutely everything we need, the regular attacks on our storage facilities, the pile of administrative impediments.

10. Wide shot: Technicians’ booth; journalists in the Press room.

11. SOUNDBITE (English) – Yasmina Guerda, humanitarian affairs officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “I’ve seen families dig makeshift septic tanks with spoons, using toilets and pipes from destroyed buildings so they could have a little bit of privacy and hygiene near their tents. You know, put some distance between themselves and their own waste.

12. Wide shot: Cameraperson and technicians in the Press room.

13. SOUNDBITE (English) – Yasmina Guerda, humanitarian affairs officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):“When your population shifts and all of a sudden, people lose their access to their services, and the situation worsens, I believe for several weeks there were thousands of children who were being followed or who were being screened that all of a sudden we sort of lost track of because they moved.”

14. Wide lateral shot: Journalists in the Press room; speaker on screen.

 


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