For the first time since the Gaza blockade began in 2007, a United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) convoy successfully delivered humanitarian food aid to Gaza via Egypt’s Rafah crossing.
Wednesday’s successful passage follows a cease-fire agreement that includes the easing of Egypt and Israel’s blockade on Gaza to allow humanitarian and construction materials to enter the coastal enclave.
The convoy of 18 trucks carried enough food to feed 150,000 people for five days, in the form of 15,600 food parcels with ready-to-eat foods procured in Alexandria. An additional 9,400 parcels are expected to be carried through the crossing in the next few days.
The convoy was part of a coordinated effort, under WFP leadership, to bring humanitarian assistance into Gaza. The Egyptian Red Crescent is coordinating the passage of goods through Rafah.
“It is extremely important that we have access to the Gaza Strip from different routes, including the Rafah crossing, to ensure a constant flow of humanitarian supplies to meet the growing needs of the people affected by the recent violence. We are grateful to the Government of Egypt for opening the Rafah crossing and allowing WFP to procure food in Egypt,” said Mohamed Diab, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe, in a press statement.
After a 50-day conflict that left more than 2,200 people dead, the United Nations estimates that up to half a million people have been displaced. The WFP says that continuing its food aid efforts for three-months will require US$70 million, while the United Nations Relief and Work Agency has appealed for $295 million for recovery operations.
Throughout the conflict, Egyptian civil society groups made several attempts to bring medical and food aid through Rafah. An aid convoy organized by the Popular Committee to Support the Uprising of the Palestinian People was turned back by the military, although the popular committee, along with a separate effort by the Pharmacists Syndicate, did eventually report being able to get aid through the border.
While Egyptian authorities restricted access of people and goods through Rafah throughout the conflict, the Egyptian military sent food and medical aid through the border.