Gaza hunger: 25 NGOs call for global priority on ceasefire and land-based humanitarian aid


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Amnesty International

Human rights and humanitarian organisations present on the ground in the Gaza Strip have reiterated since the start of the current war that the only way to meet the unprecedented humanitarian needs in the enclave is to secure an immediate and permanent ceasefire and to ensure full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access through all land crossings.

“States cannot hide behind airdrops and efforts to open a maritime corridor to create the illusion that they are doing enough to support the needs in Gaza,” said Amnesty International in a joint statement.

“Their primary responsibility is to prevent atrocity crimes from unfolding and apply effective political pressure to end the relentless bombardment and the restrictions which prevent the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.”

For months, said the statement, every person in the Gaza Strip had been surviving with crisis-level hunger, in the largest proportion of any population in food security crisis ever recorded by the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC).

“Families have been drinking unsafe water for months and spend days without eating. The health system [has] completely collapsed amid disease outbreaks and severe injuries due to constant bombardment,” said the statement.

At least [28] children have recently died from severe malnutrition, dehydration and related diseases. As each day witnesses an acceleration in the deterioration of the food, water and health situation, more deaths from starvation and disease are to follow if humanitarian access continues to be impeded by Israeli authorities.

“The UN has warned that famine is imminent.”

No capacity to meet massive needs
While States had recently ramped up airdrops of aid in Gaza, humanitarian professionals stressed that this method of aid delivery alone had in no way the capacity to meet the massive needs in the enclave, the statement said.

“Two to three million people living in a catastrophic state of survival cannot be fed and healed by airdrops,” it said.

Airdrops were unable to provide the volumes of assistance that could be transported by land.

While a convoy of five trucks had the capacity to carry about 100 tonnes of lifesaving assistance, recent airdrops delivered only a few tonnes of aid each.

Airdrops could also be extremely dangerous to the lives of civilians seeking aid — “there have already been reports of at least 5 persons killed from free falling aid packages in Gaza”.

Humanitarian assistance could not be improvised — it needed to be delivered by professional teams, with expertise in organising distributions and providing direct lifesaving services.

Aid deliveries needed to have a human face — not only to be able to properly assess the needs of affected people, but also to restore hope and dignity to an already traumatised and desperate population.

Dehumanising conditions
“After enduring five months of continuous bombardments and dehumanising conditions, children, women and men in Gaza have the right to more than meager charity dropped from the sky,” the statement said.

“While any humanitarian aid arriving to Gaza is welcome, transportation by air or by sea should be seen as complementary to land transportation and not as a substitute as it cannot in any circumstances replace the assistance delivered by road.”

The NGO statement said that it was important to note that some of the states which had recently conducted airdrops were also providing weapons to Israeli authorities, namely the US, UK and France.

“States cannot leverage aid to circumvent their international responsibilities and duties under international law, including the prevention of atrocity crimes,” the statement said.

“For these States to meet their international law obligations they must halt all arms transfers that risk being used in international crimes, as well as implement meaningful measures to enforce an immediate ceasefire, unrestricted humanitarian access and accountability for perpetrators.

Third states recently announced efforts to open a maritime corridor from Cyprus, including the establishment of a floating port on Gaza shore that would not be fully operational before several weeks.

Families were starving and did not have the time for offshore and ashore infrastructure to be constructed. Saving their lives required immediately allowing the humanitarian trucks full of food and medicine whose entry in Gaza is currently being withheld.

“Moreover, shipments from this dock to distribution points around Gaza will suffer from the same obstacles that aid convoys from Rafah are currently facing — persistent insecurity, high rate of access denial by Israeli forces, and excessive waits at Israeli checkpoints.

“Therefore, its establishment will not substantially change the humanitarian catastrophic situation, unless it is combined with an immediate ceasefire and full, unimpeded access to all areas of the Gaza Strip.

Cafe Pacific Publisher
Cafe Pacific Publisher
Café Pacific's duty editor.
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