Deprivation and despair grip Gaza

Growing up comfortably in the United Arab Emirates, these two sisters did not think their lives would take such an unexpected turn.

Rawiya and Riman in front of their house of sorts in the heart of Gaza. Photo: WFP/ Wissam Nassar

“Our life here is like an endless nightmare. I wish we never came back.”

Rawiya and Riman’s dreams of motherhood were significantly better than reality. Living in tents made of used plastic bags and rags, with a few dirty and torn mattresses, that is all their family have now. Their children must endure the unpleasant smell of smoke coming from the fire their parents usually set around the tents to block snakes and other lethal reptiles.

A living nightmare

“Our life here is like an endless nightmare. I wish we never came back,” says Rawiya. “I have accepted reality but I feel sorry for my children who have been destined to nothing but distress.”

[Left] Ali, 5, and his cousin Nour ,4, hiding from the hot sun in the family tent amidst an unsafe environment particularly for children. [Right] Rawiay, 30, helplessly watching her three-month-old baby girl who cried constantly. Photo: WFP/Wissam Nassar

Despair conquers hope

In recent months, the defiant smile most Gazans are known for has been replaced with a look of emptiness as people have increasingly exhausted all means to stay afloat.

Interruption of WFP assistance in the unthinkable

WFP provides assistance to those most acutely hit by the lack of job opportunities and live on less than US$1/day; significantly below the national deep poverty line of US$3.7.

“Without food assistance our children would starve.”

With zero days of work, Riman and Rawiya’s spouses cannot provide any income leaving their families fully dependent on assistance. The sisters cannot imagine their lives if this assistance were to be discontinued.

[Left] Riman cooking lentils she was able to purchase with the family’s SAHTEIN voucher from one of 85 shops participating in WFP’s electronic voucher programme across the Gaza Strip. [Right] Riman feeding Ali, his siblings and cousins lentil soup and bread. Photo: WFP/ Wissam Nassar
Nancy, like many children descending from poor families, grew up too quickly to shoulder the responsibility of her family. She looks after her younger siblings and cousins with dedication and a smile. Photo: WFP/ Wissam Nassar

Humble resources, humble dreams

Rawiya’s eldest daughter, eight-year-old Nancy, has a passion for painting comics on her school notebooks and is enthusiastically happy to show visitors her excellent grades. Nevertheless, when asked about her wish for the upcoming Eid al-Adha, she does not ask for new colours. “I wish we can have chicken with rice for the feast meal,” she says without thinking.

To cope with the increasing economic hardships, poor Palestinian households reduce the number of daily meals and purchase less expensive food. Photo: WFP/ Wissam Nassar

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Insight by The World Food Programme