OCHA hailed aid delivery via floating dock, land routes ‘more important’ in Gaza

Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau
UN humanitarian affairs office said on Friday that trucks carrying desperately needed aid into Gaza have started moving ashore on the temporary floating dock built by the United States military, but this is not enough to meet the needs of civilians.

OCHA warned that the maritime corridor cannot replace critical land routes, which are the quickest and most effective way of delivering humanitarian assistance in Gaza strip where more than two million Palestinians desperately need food, shelter and other assistance.

“Any and all aid into Gaza is welcome by any route,” Spokesperson Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva. “But, it is an addition, and it doesn’t take away the fact that land crossings will be more important.”

US Military’s Central Command announced that the trucks began rolling at 9am, local time, on Friday, and that no troops went ashore.

The floating dock was anchored to a beach in Gaza on Thursday. With most border crossings to the enclave closed or unsafe, it will provide an additional path for aid entering the embattled enclave.

Mr. Laerke said UN agencies are finalizing their readiness plans for handling the aid once the floating dock is properly functioning, keeping in mind the need to ensure the safety of staff.

“Community awareness and acceptance is paramount to ensure the safety and security of this operation,” he insisted.

He expressed gratitude to efforts by Cyprus, supported by other UN Member States, to sustain the maritime corridor as an additional route for aid into Gaza.

“However, getting aid to people in need into and across Gaza cannot and should not depend on a floating dock far from where needs are most acute,” he said.

“Land routes are the most viable, effective and efficient aid delivery method, which is why we need all crossing points to be opened,” Laerke added.

OCHA reported that 640,000 people have been displaced from the area since the Israeli military offensive began, in its update.

Many have fled to overcrowded Deir al Balah governorate in central Gaza, where conditions are dire.

The ongoing influx of displaced people there and in Khan Younis continues to strain humanitarian response, which is already overstretched.

Yasmina Guera, an OCHA Humanitarian Affairs Officer in Rafah said that “The situation is constantly shifting because of the fighting that is so intense,”

“One of the challenges for the response is that the minute you put something in place, the minute you think, you know something, you actually have to change everything again and you have to start from zero.”

OCHA said teams working on getting food to people in Gaza report that only five bakeries remain operational across Gaza 4 in Gaza city and 1 in Deir al Balah.

Dozen others have stopped working due to fuel and supply shortages, amid ongoing hostilities.

The aid partners have been forced to conduct small-scale distributions with limited stocks, providing reduced rations and prioritizing Khan Younis and Deir al Balah.

OCHA stated that the 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.

“Our colleagues working on ensuring that people in Gaza have adequate shelter say there are no remaining stocks of shelter materials inside Gaza,” OCHA added.

WHO stressed that the biggest issue now is fuel.

The agency’s spokesperson Tarik Jašarević reported that only 13 out of 36 hospitals in Gaza are now partially functioning, emphasizing that fuel is required for electricity and to run generators.

He said health partners require between 1.4 million to 1.8 million litres monthly so that hospitals can function, but only 159,000 litres have entered Gaza since the border closure, “and that’s clearly not sufficient”.

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