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Israeli war in Gaza blocking Gaza food aid deliveries: UN food agency

World Food Programme fears southern Gaza could soon see the same catastrophic levels of hunger recorded previously in the north

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New York: Escalating Israeli attacks and the resulting fighting in the south and centre of Gaza makes it near-impossible for humanitarians to deliver desperately needed food aid, the deputy chief of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Carl Skau, said Friday at the end of a two-day mission to the enclave.

“Driving through Gaza City to Jabalia, the destruction is unbelievable. In the North of Gaza, I didn’t see one single building intact and there was constant shelling with drones buzzing overhead,” Skau, WFP’s Deputy Executive Director, said.

“The people here are traumatized and exhausted. One woman who had lost her husband told me this war has been going on for 250 days – but to her it felt like 250 years.”

“With lawlessness born out of desperation inside Gaza now hampering deliveries from the Kerem Shalom crossing, and active conflict spreading in the southern and middle areas, WFP staff are finding it close to impossible to deliver sufficient aid to meet the growing needs.

“It is getting harder to do our job,” Skau said.

“Staff spend five to eight hours waiting at checkpoints every day. Missiles hit our premises, despite being deconflicted. The breakdown of law and order means we also face looting and violence amid a large security vacuum.”

WFP fears southern Gaza could soon see the same catastrophic levels of hunger recorded previously in the north.

Skau warned that the situation there was quickly deteriorating.

“A million people have been pushed out of Rafah and are trapped in a highly congested area along the beach in the burning summer heat. We drove through rivers of sewage,” he said.

WFP reported that there has been improvement in assistance in northern Gaza, where partners have been delivering supplies through West Erez crossing.

The UN agency warned, however, that this assistance must be sustained and scaled-up. Access to clean water, healthcare, fuel for bakeries and medical supplies are also essential.

Skau stressed that “more than anything people want this war to end, and so do we.”

He said WFP would now look at how to support the functioning of markets and also get cash to people so that they can begin to restore their lives.

“Emergency assistance is still critical, but we also need to start instilling some hope – by supporting bakeries and markets – and go beyond meeting food needs for survival to support water sanitation and basic health care needs,” he added.

“Only this way can we help restore a more dignified form of assistance that goes beyond meeting basic food needs. On my previous visit in November, the people I met were angry. Now they are exhausted and just wanted this war to end.”

Skau was in the region for three days in total. He also visited the West Bank and Jerusalem, in addition to Gaza, meeting with staff, partners and Palestinians.

In May, WFP assisted over a million people across the West Bank and Gaza, though rations were reduced due to access constraints and dwindling food stocks.

The UN agency said it continued to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and safe and sustained access to deliver life-saving aid.

 

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Business

FBR offices to remain open on June 22-23 for tax collection

FBR notification says all its Large Taxpayers’ Offices (LTOs), Medium Taxpayers’ Office (MTO), Corporate Tax Offices (CTOs) and Regional Tax Offices (RTOs) will remain open to facilitate the collection of duties and taxes

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Islamabad: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Friday said that all its offices would remain open on June 22-23 (Saturday and Sunday) for tax collection.

According to FBR notification, all its Large Taxpayers’ Offices (LTOs), Medium Taxpayers’ Office (MTO), Corporate Tax Offices (CTOs) and Regional Tax Offices (RTOs) would remain open to facilitate the collection of duties and taxes, ensuring a smooth and efficient process for taxpayers.

 

 

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Regional

Pakistan Embassy in The Hague hosts reception to celebrate National Day, Youm-e-Takbir

Ambassador Suljuk Mustansar Tarar pays tribute to the founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and the heroes of the Pakistan Movement

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Hague: The Embassy of Pakistan in The Hague, Netherlands on Friday hosted a grand reception to celebrate Pakistan’s National Day and Youm-e-Takbir.

The event was attended by senior Dutch officials, diplomats from other countries, international organization representatives, members of the Pakistani community, Dutch and Pakistani business leaders, intellectuals, and journalists, said a press released issued by the embassy.

Wouter Jurgens, Director of the Asia and Oceania Department at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was the special guest of the event. Renowned photographer and visual storyteller, Jimmy Nelson, also graced the occasion with his presence.

In his address, Ambassador Suljuk Mustansar Tarar paid tribute to the founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and the heroes of the Pakistan Movement. He highlighted the successful cooperation between Pakistan and the Netherlands in various fields, including politics, trade, investment, agriculture, water management, climate change, technology, education, culture, and sports.

He also acknowledged the significant role of the Pakistani community in promoting friendly relations between the two countries.

Director Wouter Jurgens emphasized the importance of cooperation between Pakistan and the Netherlands, saying that their relations were built on friendship and mutual understanding. Jimmy Nelson presented a special presentation showcasing the vibrant culture of Pakistan and shared his experiences from his recent visit to the country.

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