UN resumes transporting aid from US-built pier in Gaza

May 24, 2024 7:30 am

[Source: Reuters]

The United Nations has resumed transporting humanitarian aid arriving at a U.S.-built pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip after deliveries were halted for two days because some truckloads of aid were intercepted by needy Palestinians.

Aid deliveries began arriving at a U.S.-built pier on Friday as Israel comes under growing global pressure to allow more supplies into the besieged coastal enclave, where it is at war with Palestinian militants Hamas and a famine looms.

The U.N. is coordinating aid distribution at the floating dock, but has remained adamant that aid deliveries by land are the “most viable, effective and efficient” way to combat the humanitarian crisis in the enclave of 2.3 million people.

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The U.N. has said at least 500 trucks a day are needed to enter Gaza.

Ten truckloads of aid – driven from the pier site by U.N. contractors – were received on Friday at a World Food Programme warehouse in Deir El Balah. But on Saturday, only five loads made it to the warehouse after 11 others were intercepted.

The U.N. halted transport for two days while it came up with a new route. WFP spokesperson Shaza Moghraby said on Thursday that deliveries resumed on Tuesday with 17 trucks arriving at the warehouse, while on Wednesday there were 27 trucks.

“All commodities have been accounted for to my knowledge and no incidents were reported,” Moghraby said, adding that some aid is for WFP to distribute, while the rest is for other aid groups operating in Gaza.

The pier operation – announced by U.S. President Joe Biden in March – is estimated to cost $320 million and involve 1,000 U.S. service members. But Biden made clear that no U.S. troops would set foot in Gaza.

A U.S. official said on Thursday that so far some 800 metric tonnes of aid had been delivered off the pier to a staging area. USAID said that as of Tuesday more than 307 metric tonnes of aid had been transported from “to onward points in Gaza.”

The aid offloaded at the pier comes via a maritime corridor from Cyprus, where it is first inspected by Israel.

So far, 3,474 pallets of aid have been shipped out of the Cypriot port of Larnaca, with each pallet weighing about a tonne, a Cypriot Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

It was not immediately clear how much aid was currently positioned in Cyprus for delivery via the maritime corridor.

U.S. officials have said that once up and running the pier would initially handle 90 trucks a day, but that number could go to 150 trucks.