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UN body delivers food aid to Gaza via Rafah

World Food Programme delivers aid to Gaza for the first time since Israel imposed a blockade on the coastal enclave in 2007

Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Aug 2014
Rafah Crossing
A WFP truck passing through Egypt's Rafah crossing to the Gaza Strip as it carries large amounts of food, August 27 2014 (Photo Courtesy of: World Food Programme's Facebook Page)
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The World Food Programme (WFP) said that a humanitarian convoy has crossed from Egypt's Rafah border crossing into the war-torn Gaza Strip, becoming the first aid sent to Gaza by the UN organisation since the start of the seven-year Israeli blockade in 2007.  

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the convoy said it carried enough food to feed around 150,000 people for five days. "The convoy of 18 trucks carried 15,600 food parcels – part of a total batch of 25,000 food parcels. The parcels include ready-to-eat food such as canned meat, canned beans, tea and dates," stated the WFP.  

WFP announced it will send another convoy to cross into the costal enclave during the coming days. It praised the Egyptian government for opening the Rafah crossing and allowing WFP's convoy to "procure food in Egypt." The statement referred to the Egyptian Red Crescent as the coordinator of all the crossing of humanitarian goods through Rafah.

“WFP has provided emergency relief from the onset of the conflict and will continue its food deliveries to Gaza to reach people affected by the conflict,” WFP country director Pablo Recalde was quoted in the statement as saying. WFP says it needs roughly $70 million for its humanitarian mission in Gaza along the coming three months.

The UN body, regarded as the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, has given help to up to 350,000 displaced Gazans with daily emergency food rations - as well as 120,000 people with emergency vouchers - since the beginning of Israel's offensive on Gaza.

Since the beginning of Israel's offensive on Gaza in July, 2,143 Palestinians have lost their lives, along with more than 12,000 others injured. On the Israeli side, 70 people – including 64 soldiers – were killed. Tel Aviv and the Palestinian factions reached an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire on Tuesday, coming into effect at 7:00pm Cairo time (1600 GMT).

Egypt's foreign ministry announced that indirect talks will resume within one month of Tuesday's open-ended truce following the failure of earlier rounds of negotiations. Head of the Palestinian negotiating delegation, Azzam Al-Ahmed, told AFP that Egypt's initiative – on which the truce deal was built – includes opening crossings into Gaza for goods and humanitarian and food aid along with medical supplies and material to repair water, electricity and mobile phone networks.

Restrictions on fishing would end immediately with boats allowed to fish and sail up to six nautical miles from shore, Azzam Al-Ahmed said.

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