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Delivery of food aid to Rafah paused due to lack of supplies, UN agency says

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said on Tuesday that food distribution in Gaza's southern city of Rafah was currently suspended due to lack of supplies and insecurity.

United Nations also running into issues with distribution from temporary pier

Gaza aid has slowed to a trickle

7 days ago

Duration 2:18

Aid trucks are not getting into Gaza, strangling food, water and medical supplies. Some truck drivers avoid areas where Israeli settlers attack aid trucks while Egypt and Israel blame each other for keeping the main Rafah crossing into Gaza closed after Israel captured it a week ago.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Tuesday that food distribution in Gaza's southern city of Rafah was currently suspended due to lack of supplies and insecurity.

UNRWA said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, that only seven of its 24 health centres were operational and that it had not received any medical supplies in the past 10 days due to "closures/disruptions" at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza.

"We desperately need a safe passage — not just for the humanitarian supplies, but also for the humanitarian personnel," read a statement from Louise Wateridge, a UNRWA communications officer in Gaza.

Israel mounted a new push in central Gaza on Monday, bombarding towns in the north of the Palestinian enclave and saying it intended to broaden operations in Rafah despite U.S. warnings of the risk of mass casualties in the southern city.

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on the southern and northern edges of Hamas-ruled Gaza this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and sharply restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

UN looking for new routes from pier

The United Nations has planned new routes within the Gaza Strip to transport aid from a U.S.-built floating pier after crowds of desperate Palstinians intercepted 11 trucks, causing a halt to deliveries that continued for a third day on Tuesday.

The temporary pier was anchored to a Gaza beach last Thursday 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.

WATCH | Aid trucks not able to get into Gaza:

Aid arrives from U.S.-built floating pier in Gaza

4 days ago

Duration 0:33

In video obtained from Reuters, trucks with food and other supplies drive away, into Gaza, after being loaded from the floating pier constructed by the U.S. to deliver much-needed aid.

Operations began on Friday and 10 aid trucks were driven by UN contractors to a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse in Deir El Balah in Gaza. But on Saturday, only five trucks made it to the warehouse after 11 others were intercepted.

"Crowds had stopped the trucks at various points along the way. There was … what I think I would refer to as self-distribution," UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Tuesday.

"These trucks were travelling through areas where there'd been no aid. I think people feared that they would never see aid. They grabbed what they could," he said.

Distribution was paused as the UN planned new routes and co-ordination of deliveries in a bid to prevent more aid being intercepted, said Abeer Etefa, a WFP spokesperson in Cairo.

"The missions were planned for today using the new routes to avoid the crowds," she said. Dujarric later said there had been no transportation of aid from the pier since Saturday.

Gazans 'waiting for American aid'

The pier has been met with hope and skepticism by residents in Gaza. The pier operation — announced by U.S. President Joe Biden in March — is estimated to cost $320 million USD ($436 million CAD) and involve 1,000 U.S. service members.

"The pier should be there when the (Israeli) occupation completely ends. Then, it will be good for us. It will be good to travel, to get things," said Abu Nadi al-Haddad, questioning why it was needed now, given there were several land crossings.

Another resident, Abu Nasser Abu Khousa, came to the coastal road close to where the pier is located with his four-year-old son and a donkey-drawn cart in the hope of receiving aid.

"We are waiting for the American aid, but we did not get anything," he said, adding that he had lost his home in the war and had been displaced multiple times. "We will come back tomorrow, God willing, in the hope that we will get some aid, that will help us survive."

A woman and a young girl stand with empty bowls and pots in their hands.

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

Aid offloaded at the pier comes via a maritime corridor from Cyprus, where it is first inspected by Israel. Two ships carrying aid left Cyprus earlier this month and the Pentagon said more than 569 tonnes of aid had been delivered to Gaza.

"More is on the way, so you're going to see those numbers increase," Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear how much of the 569 tonnes of aid — which the Pentagon said had been donated by the U.S., Britain, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union — was still waiting to be transported by UN-contracted trucks.

Israel is retaliating against Hamas in Gaza — an enclave of 2.3 million people — over the Oct. 7 attack by Palestinian militants where more than 1,200 people were killed and over 150 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Aid access into southern Gaza has been disrupted since Israel stepped up military operations in Rafah, a move that the UN says has forced 900,000 people to flee.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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