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Gaza humanitarian aid: deliver by land, urge charities

March 14, 2024 at 10:58 am

Palestinians receive humanitarian aid supplies brought by trucks in Gaza Strip on March 13, 2024. [Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

Charities and other NGOs operating in Gaza have called on governments worldwide to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory by land, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. Twenty-five charities have joined together to urge governments to do this, Anadolu has reported.

“States cannot hide behind airdrops and efforts to open a maritime corridor to create the illusion that they are doing enough to support the needs in Gaza,” said Amnesty. “Their primary responsibility is to prevent atrocity crimes from unfolding and apply effective political pressure to end the relentless bombardment and the restrictions which prevent the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.”

Palestinians in Gaza have been “surviving with crisis-level hunger” for over five months, explained the rights organisation. “It is the largest proportion of any population in a food security crisis ever recorded by the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC).”

The NGOs criticised the capacity of airdrops. “While a convoy of five trucks has the capacity to carry about 100 tons of lifesaving assistance, recent airdrops delivered only a few tons of aid,” Amnesty pointed out. “Airdrops can also be extremely dangerous to the lives of civilians seeking aid: there have already been reports of at least five persons killed from free-falling aid packages in Gaza.”

It is essential for aid deliveries to be person-centred, enabling accurate evaluation of the affected individuals’ requirements while also revitalising hope and dignity among a population already grappling with trauma and despair, warned the NGOs. “After enduring five months of continuous bombardments and dehumanising conditions, children, women and men in Gaza have the right to more than meagre charity dropped from the sky.”

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Moreover, said Amnesty, “States such as the US, the UK and France are still providing arms to Israeli forces. States cannot leverage aid to circumvent their international responsibilities and duties under international law, including the prevention of atrocity crimes.”

It urged these states to “halt all arms transfers that risk being used in international crimes, as well as implement meaningful measures to enforce an immediate ceasefire, unrestricted humanitarian access and accountability for perpetrators.”

Referring to the efforts to open a maritime corridor from Cyprus, including the building of a floating port on the Gaza shore that will not be fully operational for several weeks, Amnesty noted that: “Families are starving and can’t wait for infrastructure to be built. Immediate access for humanitarian trucks carrying food and medicine to Gaza is essential to save lives. Furthermore, shipments from this dock to distribution points across Gaza will encounter similar challenges to aid convoys from Rafah.”

These ongoing challenges include insecurity, frequent access denials by Israeli forces, and prolonged waits at Israeli checkpoints.

The NGOs’ statement also noted that building a floating port won’t significantly alter the dire humanitarian situation unless paired with an immediate ceasefire and unrestricted access throughout Gaza.

“States must ensure that the maritime corridor does not legitimise a prolonged Israeli ground military occupation of the strip by instrumentalizing the necessity of aid delivery. We reiterate that an immediate and permanent ceasefire is the only condition to allow for the colossal increase in the flow of humanitarian aid needed to alleviate the suffering of 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip.”

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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