‘1kg sugar for Dh99’: Meet Gaza sisters behind viral ‘unboxing UAE aid’ video

Published: Sun 31 Mar 2024, 11:38 AM

Last updated: Sun 31 Mar 2024, 10:29 PM

In war-torn Gaza, a kilo of sugar is being sold for a whopping Dh99 — so when 10-year-old Palestinian Renad saw two packs of it inside a UAE aid box, she was over the moon.

Her priceless reaction was caught in a video that has now gone viral. While others her age would usually unwrap a new gadget or a clothing parcel for the ‘Gram, Renad found joy in unboxing the UAE relief package her family had waited for for a month.

“Renad was particularly excited to see sugar because its price is very high, reaching $27 (Dh99) per kilo. We usually drink tea in Ramadan for suhoor and sugar has not been available for a month or more,” Renad’s sister Dr Nourhan Atallah told Khaleej Times.

Wearing a big, charming smile on her face as planes can be heard zooming past in the background, the little girl is seen unpacking the aid box in the viral video.

Before even opening the entire parcel, she spots the sugar and laughs loudly at the sight of it. Watch the clip below:

Life amidst skyrocketing costs

The war has made the most basic necessities a luxury. Dr Nourhan lamented how food prices have become “astronomically high”, with one egg reaching $2 (Dh7.34) and the price of 1kg of onions reaching $10 (Dh36.72).

“Tents are also bought and sold, and the cost of some tents has reached $2,000 (Dh7,344). Whereas, apartments are being rented out. Although, scarce and uninhabitable, they can cost $2,000 a month, whereas one room with only a bathroom reaches $700 (Dh2570).”

During the first two months of the war, Dr Nourhan’s family was able to get fresh vegetables — but as the crisis dragged on, those leafy greens were nowhere to be found. And even if they become available, they cost multiple times higher.

“Naturally, we have become completely dependent on canned food (beans, peas, chickpeas, tuna, and canned meat), for six months now. We’re even suffering because of the lack of cooking gas and having to use firewood during the month of Ramadan,” she said.

Getting aid is ‘extremely difficult’

For more than six months, continuous shelling and bombings have been shaking Gaza, killing tens and thousands of innocent Palestinians and leaving millions displaced.

The UAE has stood in solidarity with Palestine, showing its support by sending tonnes of humanitarian aid and even setting up a floating hospital — aside from bringing in hundreds of ill Palestinians for treatment into the country.

Aid delivery to Gaza, especially by land, has been sparse and chaotic; so the Emirates was among those that had airdropped food and relief into the strip. So far, the country has carried out 17 airdropping missions, sending in at least 743 tonnes of food.

But even then, getting access to these supplies is another story. “The UAE aid that is dropped by air is difficult to obtain, though it does benefit some,” said Dr Nourhan, who has been sharing a glimpse of life in Gaza on Instagram.

It may take more than a month to grab hold of one box, she said. “We managed to get a box of UAE aid from a friend who took our information to obtain the food parcel a month ago. Getting aid is not easy, and we personally did not receive any food parcels except for the Emirati parcel.”

The Palestine Red Crescent has said five people have been killed and dozens have been injured by gunfire and a stampede during an aid delivery in Gaza’s north. It is the latest incident of its kind in north Gaza, where a UN-backed report has projected famine by May unless urgent intervention occurs.

Staying safe

Fighting has not eased in Gaza, with deaths nearing 33,000, according to the latest count of the territory’s health ministry.

There is not much Dr Nourhan and her family can do to stay safe. “Unfortunately, there are no safety steps that we can follow other than lying down on the ground if any bombing occurs nearby,” she said.

There is “no shelter” and “no safe place” in Gaza because all locations are exposed to continuous shelling and bombing. “We try not to leave the house except when necessary and stay away from windows and exposed places to the greatest damage – in case of a bombing nearby.”

Leaving the war zone

While staying in Gaza comes at a great cost – so does leaving the war-ravaged city.

To escape to Egypt, each person must have the equivalent of $5,000, Dr Nourhan said. “We are 8 people in the family, so we will need to have $40,000 to exit Gaza.”

Unfortunately, just having the money does not guarantee a safe passage or timely departure from the city. In order to exit, one must first get their name written in a travel registry, a process that can take a month.

“Many people, who have had the money and registered to leave, have lost their lives in the waiting period.”

Dr Nourhan and her family are trying to stay strong and keep Renad going in the middle of a traumatic war. “Earlier, Renad was suffering from a bad psychological state after seeing several children die in a targeting close to our house. Now, we’re trying to keep her as mentally healthy as possible.”

They take each day as it comes while hoping that, one day, they will be able to run far away from the bombings.

“We want to protect Renad’s childhood and for her to complete her studies. She is a smart child and deserves to be discovered,” Dr Nourhan said.

“We hope to leave Gaza and protect our souls from death that may come at any moment.”

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