For the first time in seven years, a humanitarian convoy of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) successfully crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, carrying food aid items enough to feed around 150,000 people for five days, a WFP statement released on Saturday revealed.
WFP’s trucks arrived at the Rafah crossing after a seven-hour drive from Alexandria, where the food was procured, across the Sinai Peninsula, the agency said in a news release, adding “this is the first time that WFP has used the Rafah crossing point since the Israeli blockade was imposed in 2007.”
The convoy of 18 trucks carried 15,600 food parcels – part of a total batch of 25,000 food parcels – that includes ready-to-eat food such as canned meat, canned beans, tea and dates. A second convoy with the remaining parcels is expected to cross into Gaza in the next few days, the statement added.
“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,” said Mohamed Diab, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe.
“We are grateful to the Government of Egypt for opening the Rafah crossing and allowing WFP to procure food in Egypt,” he added.
To respond to the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza, the UN in Palestine has activated the logistics cluster. Under the leadership of WFP, the cluster is in charge of coordinating the movement of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. The Egyptian Red Crescent is coordinating all the crossing of humanitarian goods through Rafah, WFP statement further pointed out.
“The opening of the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid provides a major opportunity to scale up aid delivery to Gaza and needs to be sustained,” says WFP Country Director Pablo Recalde. “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.”