Though the latest round of fighting in Gaza began barely four weeks ago, the crisis already has taken a toll on the United Nations' ability to respond to the vast humanitarian needs across the Middle East, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said.
“In less than a month, we have lost eleven of our own,” said Salvatore Lombardo, the agency’s director for external relations and communications. Almost 270,000 displaced Palestinians are living in 90 UNRWA shelters across Gaza, he added.
“While designated emergency shelters were originally equipped to accommodate 500 people, these facilities are now accommodating more than 2,000 people,” he said.
It’s not just the UN. Other humanitarian groups are feeling the weight of supporting the growing number of victims and refugees in Gaza as other conflicts persist in the Middle East. Aid workers say relief efforts face not only shrinking supplies of manpower, food, water and funding, but also the diluted attention of the media, policymakers and donors.
“[We are] being stretched very thin by a number of disaster responses,” said Lawren Sinnema, humanitarian and emergency affairs program management officer at World Vision, an international Christian nonprofit that aids children and their families in times of poverty, war and calamity.