Home News Aid flows to Gaza are increasing, but more is needed, UN says

Aid flows to Gaza are increasing, but more is needed, UN says


Israel this month accelerated aid to Gaza under intense international scrutiny, but humanitarian groups say more is needed as the enclave faces severe hunger, particularly in its devastated north.

Israel’s efforts — including opening new aid routes — were recognized last week by the Biden administration and international aid officials. More aid trucks appear to be arriving in Gaza, particularly in the north, where experts have warned for weeks of looming famine.

Arif Hussein, chief economist at the U.N. World Food Program, said the increase in aid levels was a good sign but that it was too early to say that looming famine was no longer a risk.

“This cannot happen for just one day or a week – it has to happen every day for the foreseeable future,” Mr Hussein said, adding that the main needs were for more food, water and medicine. “If we can do this, then we can alleviate suffering and avoid famine.”

Aid groups have long complained about how little aid is entering the enclave, blaming poor war conditions, strict inspections and restrictions on the number of crossing points. Israel insists the restrictions are necessary to ensure weapons or supplies do not fall into the hands of Hamas.

But under pressure from President Biden after Israeli air strikes Killed seven aid workers From World Central Kitchen, Israel announced this month that it will Open up more assistance routes.

Aid has since reached Gaza through new routes, including into the partially operational border crossing in northern Gaza and the Israeli port city of Ashdod, about 20 miles north of the enclave.

Shani Sasson, a spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli agency that oversees policy in the Palestinian territories and liaises with international organizations, said infrastructure work was underway to make the northern crossing permanent and to open another nearby point.

About 100 trucks a day now reach the northern half of the strip through the two main crossings in the south, compared with a total of 350 trucks in nearly all of March, according to Israeli and U.S. officials.

Mr. Hussein said flour from the World Food Program had begun arriving in Ashdod, increasing the scale and efficiency of flour deliveries to northern Gaza in particular.Four Bakery reopens In Gaza City this month, the Israeli military said it was a sign that conditions were improving.

The United Nations shared a video online showing a bakery pantry filled with flour and Palestinian children applauding aid trucks.

Defense Department officials said Thursday that Army engineers have begun building a floating dock Off the coast of Gaza. The sea route is expected to open in the coming weeks and could help rescue workers deliver up to 2 million meals a day.

In addition, the Jordanian military and government have recently increased the number of aid convoys that travel from Jordan through the West Bank and through parts of Israel before reaching the southern Gaza crossing. The Jordanian military conducts its own inspections. Government trucks undergo Israeli inspection.

Still, the amount of aid that actually reaches Gaza remains disputed, with Israel and the United Nations using different methods to track truck deliveries.

Ms. Sasson said the number of trucks entering Gaza each day had doubled in recent weeks to an average of 400 a day. But the United Nations reported a much smaller increase. An average of 189 trucks per day entered Gaza through the two main crossings in the south in the two weeks to Thursday, the latest day for which data is available, but numbers fluctuated widely.

According to U.N. officials, Israeli screening and counting trucks often enter Gaza only half-full, and sometimes trucks take more than a day to reach Gaza warehouses, affecting daily counts.

In addition to the disparity in aid totals, Israel claims that 19 Palestinian employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), the U.N. agency responsible for aiding the Palestinians, helped Hamas launch the Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,200 Israelis lives were lost, leaving tensions still simmering. On Friday, the U.N. investigative office said it had closed a case against an employee and said Israel had provided no evidence to support the charges against him.

Separately, the U.N. said four other cases against UNRWA employees were suspended because Israel provided insufficient information for the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services to open an investigation.

UNRWA said the suspended cases could be reopened if more evidence was provided, and more than a dozen staff members were still under investigation.

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Accusations that U.N. staff were involved in Hamas-led attacks prompted more than a dozen countries to Suspending billions of dollars in funding to the agencywhich has been a vital lifeline of aid, water and shelter for many people in Gaza.

Germany, the agency’s second-largest donor after the United States, has since said it would Restoration funding UNRWA, but U.S. officials have not yet said whether they will follow suit.

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