OPT: More WFP trucks with humanitarian assistance head for Gaza

Jerusalem - The United Nations World Food Programme has announced that nine trucks carrying 225 metric tons of food have begun to cross the border into Gaza today. The food convoy follows the arrival yesterday of seven WFP trucks carrying 200 metric tons of food assistance into the occupied Palestinian territory.

The trucks will cross into Gaza through Kerem Shalom, the southern border crossing from Israel that has been opened after a consensus was reached by all parties to allow emergency relief supplies through. WHO also sent one truckload of urgently-needed medical supplies to Gaza through the crossing yesterday.

"There is a serious humanitarian crisis developing in Gaza as a result of the recent turmoil and closure of the border crossings. It is crucial that food and other humanitarian assistance continue to reach the increasingly desperate population," said Arnold Vercken, WFP Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)..

Gaza relies on the importation of all basic commodities, however, with the recent border closures, commercial food stocks in Gaza are quickly being depleted and are expected to run extremely low within two weeks as people panic buy flour, sugar and oil. Already in the past few days wheat flour prices have shot up by 40 percent and commercial food stocks have already run out in some areas.

The purchasing power of the population in Gaza has been heavily affected by the closures, violence, the destruction of property, looting and the inability to go to work. Overall, there is a growing dependency on humanitarian assistance.

WFP has managed to continue its food assistance but the challenges of providing such assistance are numerous in terms of logistics, security and growing needs of the population.

WFP is assisting 275,000 beneficiaries in Gaza out of 1.4 million population or 60 percent of the non-refugee Palestinians in the Strip. Over the past week the UN agency is also supplying fresh bread to 10 hospitals in Gaza. In total 80 percent of Gaza's population rely on food aid from WFP or UNRWA.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: on average, each year, we give food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=999.

WFP now has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Kirstie Campbell, WFP/Jerusalem, Tel. +972-2-541340/1/2, Mob. +972-577268229

Khaled Mansour, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +20-2- 25281730 ext 2600, Mob. +20-122348671

Mia Turner, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +20-2-25281730, ext 2601, Mob. +20-122455769

Brenda Barton, Deputy Director of Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602, Cell. +39-3472582217 (ISDN line available)

Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel.. +44-20-72409001, Cell. +44-7968-008474

Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304

Cécile Sportis, WFP/Paris, Tel. +33-1-70385330, Cell. +33-6161-68266

Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383

Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Cell. +1-646-8241112, luescher@un.org