Egypt's solidarity minister urges int'l pressure on Israel to expedite aid access to Gaza

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 Jan 2024

Egypt's Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj urged international pressure on Israel to address challenges hindering the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Egypt's Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj receives UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag in Cairo, 17 January 2024. Photo: Egyptian Cabinet


El-Qabbaj's call came during her meeting on Wednesday with UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag.

The minister said many obstacles stood in the way of aid entry, such as the continuous changing standards for humanitarian aid trucks, cumbersome inspection processes at more than one border crossing, and numerous truck reloading delays. 

These challenges contribute to aid delay of more than 20 days at times, she added.

This is in addition to the rejection of entry of some double-use aid materials, such as oxygen cylinders, electricity generators, water sterilizers, respirators, some medical supplies, and metals used in erecting tents, the minister noted.

During the meeting, both parties emphasized the necessity of the continuous flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the ongoing support for service facilities, medical establishments, and relief agencies providing essential services to the Palestinian people.

The Egyptian minister said that the majority of humanitarian aid provided to Palestinians in Gaza since October 2023 comes from Egypt.

She called for an increase in the number of trucks allowed to enter Gaza, since the current number barely meets 30-40 percent of the population's needs. She also stressed the need to increase the truck load to 90-100 percent instead of the currently enforced 50 percent load condition.

Kaag pledged to explore UN mediation options to facilitate procedures and enhance technical support to improve the efficiency of aid delivery to the Palestinian side.

El-Qabbaj highlighted the significant role of the Egyptian Red Crescent in supporting evacuees and Palestinians facing hardship, offering services such as healthcare, family reintegration, psychological support, and the distribution of hygiene supplies and cash assistance.

The minister stressed the need for additional financial resources for Egypt, given the country's responsibility in addressing the Gaza crisis, supporting Sudanese refugees, and accommodating over nine million refugees and migrants during challenging economic conditions.

The head of Egypt’s State Information Service Diaa Rashwan stated that Egypt’s private and public contributions comprise 82 percent of total aid delivered to Gaza, which in total has reached 9,000 aid-loaded trucks until 14 January.

The UN official commended Egypt's efforts in providing and facilitating humanitarian aid to Gaza. She highlighted the need for a unified platform to exchange data and coordinate efforts among various entities, including the UN, the Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross, international NGOs, and private companies.

This is Kaag's first visit to the region since her appointment on 26 December 2023 under Security Council Resolution 2720, meant to facilitate, coordinate, and monitor the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Kaag met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry on Tuesday and the Minister of Defence Mohamed Zaki on Wednesday before heading to Sinai for a field tour of the Rafah crossing on the same day to witness firsthand the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza.

Since October 2023, Israel has launched a brutal war on the Gaza Strip that has killed at least 24,285 Palestinians, with 61,154 reported injuries, according to the Palestinian health ministry's latest figures.

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