Gaza: Less than 1 in 2 UN aid convoys allowed into northern zones this month

Gaza: Less than 1 in 2 UN aid convoys allowed into northern zones this month
Gaza: Less than 1 in 2 UN aid convoys allowed into northern zones this month

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - GAZA — Less than half of the UN aid convoys planned for Gaza’s hunger-ravaged north have made it so far this month, despite repeated appeals from the international community to ramp up relief to more than one million people on the brink of starvation, UN humanitarians said on Wednesday.

In its latest update, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that the first two weeks of March saw just 11 out of 24 missions “facilitated” by Israeli authorities.

“The rest were either denied or postponed,” OCHA continued, noting that five convoys were refused entry and eight were postponed.

“Facilitated missions primarily involved food distributions, nutrition and health assessments, and the delivery of supplies to hospitals,” OCHA said, repeating warnings that “humanitarian access constraints” continue to “severely affect the timely delivery of life-saving assistance, particularly to hundreds of thousands of people in northern Gaza”.

Echoing those calls on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged the Israeli authorities “to ensure complete and unfettered access for humanitarian goods throughout Gaza and for the international community to fully support our humanitarian efforts”.

Speaking from Brussels where he was due to hold meetings with European Union representatives, the UN chief also repeated his call to “keep doing everything to stop the killing, reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and secure the unconditional release of the hostages”.

Dispatching aid to the north of Gaza requires “day-to-day approvals” from the Israeli authorities, OCHA explained, but despite all efforts to coordinate the process, “truck convoys are frequently turned back, even after long waits at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint”, which is the gateway to the north of the enclave.

Aid convoys have also become the focus of “desperate people”, OCHA continued, “either at the checkpoint or along the difficult route north when they do get through. The only way to prevent this is to ensure that enough aid can be delivered on a reliable basis.”

During the same two-week period in March, Israeli authorities granted access to three in four relief missions to areas south of Wadi Gaza (78 out of 103), with 15 denied and 10 “postponed or withdrawn”, according to OCHA.

All the while “famine is imminent” in parts of the enclave, warned the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNWRA, amid reports overnight that 24 people died in an aid convoy attack in the north of Gaza City.

“(On) average, 159 aid trucks per day crossed into the Gaza Strip so far in March. This is well below the needs,” UNRWA said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

A ceasefire and the release of all remaining hostages remains the only way to ensure that sufficient aid reaches Gaza by land — and far more effective than airdrops or shipments by sea — aid officials have long insisted.

To that end, talks entered a third day in Qatar on Wednesday between delegations including Israel, the US and Egypt, media reports indicated.

Latest information from the enclave’s health authority indicates that the death toll since Oct. 7 has risen to 31,923 with 74,096 people wounded. — UN News

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