UN agrees to support handling of aid from US-built pier off Gaza

Shaimaa Raafat
6 Min Read

The United Nations has agreed to support the handling of aid from the US-built floating dock off Gaza, a spokesperson said Friday.

After months of discussions with all relevant authorities, the United Nations has agreed to support in receiving and arranging for the dispatch of aid into Gaza from the pier, as long as it respects the neutrality and independence of humanitarian operations, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Given the immense needs in Gaza, the floating dock is intended to supplement existing land crossings of aid into Gaza, including Rafah, Kerem Shalom and Erez. It is not meant to replace any crossings,” he stressed.

A logistics cluster managed by the World Food Programme will handle the logistics on behalf of the United Nations, its different agencies, and the humanitarian community, said Haq, adding that the cluster will facilitate the flow of humanitarian assistance coming from the floating dock.

On Friday, the first trucks carrying humanitarian assistance moved ashore on the floating dock in Gaza. This is an ongoing, multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinians in Gaza through a maritime corridor that is entirely humanitarian in nature and will involve aid commodities donated by a number of countries and humanitarian organizations, he noted.

The United Nations welcomes any effort toward ensuring humanitarian aid reaches Gaza. As such, the world body is grateful to the United States, as well as to Cyprus, with the support of other member states, to sustain the maritime corridor as an additional route for aid to Gaza, said the spokesman.

On the ground in Gaza, UN humanitarians report that since the Israeli military offensive on Rafah began on May 6, nearly 640,000 people have been displaced. Many of those who fled have sought safety in Deir al Balah, which is extremely overcrowded. Conditions there are dire said Haq.

UN staff working on getting food to people in Gaza report that only five bakeries remain operational in all of Gaza, and nearly a dozen others have ceased operations due to fuel and supply shortages, amid ongoing hostilities, he said.

These conditions have forced partners to conduct small-scale distributions with limited stocks, providing reduced rations and prioritizing Khan Younis and Deir al Balah governorates, where hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Rafah have arrived over the past 10 days, he said.

That ongoing displacement from Rafah to Khan Younis has exacerbated the water and sanitation crisis, with sewage overflow and solid waste spreading across roads, displacement camps, and the rubble of destroyed homes — with a catastrophic impact on health, he said.

UN staff working on ensuring that people in Gaza have adequate shelter say there are no remaining stocks of shelter materials inside Gaza. UN staff working on the health response say the movement of emergency medical teams in Gaza is highly constrained due to growing insecurity and access challenges, he said.

Haq said very limited humanitarian supplies have entered Gaza since May 6 while the needs remain immense.

Between May 6 and 15, only 33 trucks carrying food entered Gaza through the Kerem Shalom/Karem Abu Salem crossing; 121 trucks carrying food entered through the Erez crossing; and 156 trucks carrying flour were reported to arrive in northern Gaza through the Zikim crossing, he said.

Haq said an extremely limited amount of fuel on an exceptional basis has come into Gaza since the start of the Rafah offensive.

On the other hand, Hamas said Friday that there is no alternative to opening land crossings under Palestinian supervision for delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including the newly anchored floating aid pier.

The confirmation comes following the start of operations by the US-built aid pier off the coast of Gaza City, according to local Palestinian sources.

Any means of aid delivery, including the aid pier, is not a substitute for opening all land crossings under Palestinian supervision, Hamas said in a press statement.

It emphasized the right of the Palestinian people to receive all necessary aid amid the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the occupation of the Gaza Strip.

It also reiterated the rejection by Hamas and all Palestinian factions of any military presence of any force on Palestinian territories.

Earlier, local Palestinian sources told Xinhua that a ship carrying humanitarian aid had reached the shores of the Strip, while smaller boats began unloading their cargo and delivering it to the aid pier west of the city.

Dozens of trucks were reported waiting on the coastal strip to be loaded with aid and transported to warehouses belonging to the United Nations (UN) in the Strip.

Meanwhile, the sources noted that another group of ships are on the way to the shores of Gaza, with expectations to unload their cargo soon.

Palestinian sources said that international relief organizations, led by the World Food Program (WFP) operating in the Strip, would be responsible for receiving and distributing the aid to local residents.

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