U.S. Navy Anchors Temporary Pier For Humanitarian Aid Delivery To Gaza

Pier
Image Credits: US Centcom/Twitter

The US reportedly anchored a floating pier based in Gaza on Thursday to bolster aid deliveries, but Washington is encountering the same challenges that have beset the UN and aid groups for several months when it comes to distributing aid to millions during a war between Palestinian and Israeli militants Hamas.

These include an acute shortage of fuel and working in a conflict zone.

The UN mentioned on Thursday that it was finalising its operational schedules to handle the distribution of aid if it comes off the pier.

Aid trucks are anticipated to start moving ashore in the coming days, the US said on Thursday when announcing the anchoring of the temporary pier.

However, the UN and humanitarian agencies mentioned that issues had yet to be resolved.

Martin Griffiths, the UN aid chief, informed Reuters in an interview on Thursday that internal distribution security is tough in an active war zone such as Gaza, compounded by the lack of fuel.

President Biden declared the pier in March as the UN implored Israel to enhance access to relief supplies into Gaza through land routes.

By opening up a route to deliver aid by sea, the US hopes to combat the humanitarian crisis that has put thousands of individuals at risk of famine.

The scheme has been expensive and slow.

Poor weather has postponed the pier, estimated to cost almost $320 million and involve 1,000 US troops.

The UN determined that maritime access was not a substitute for land.

To stave off the horrors of the famine, we must use the most prominent and fastest means to reach the individuals in Gaza—and for that, they need access through the land, Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesperson, said on Thursday.

Getting aid delivered to individuals in and across Gaza cannot and shouldn’t depend on a floating dock far from the most acute needs.

The UN and aid groups have long highlighted the dangers and obstacles to getting aid and distributing it through Gaza.

The UN has lost 191 staff, including the first foreign staff member on Monday, during the more than seven-month-long war between Israeli and Palestinian militants Hamas in the coastal enclave of 2.3 million individuals.

During the initial days of any operation like this, there will be a lot of trial and error, mentioned a UN official.

He added that they hope that this trial and error does not end up in another individual getting killed.

Israel has started retaliating against the Hamas militants over an October 7 attack in which Israel says militants took the lives of about 1,200 individuals and took over 250 as hostages.

Relevant Gaza health authorities have said that Israel has taken the lives of more than 35,000 in Gaza since then.

The top UN officials, as well as aid groups, accuse Israel of impeding aid deliveries to Gaza, but Israel also denies that it has constrained aid operations and blames the UN instead for other issues.

Aid deliveries through the maritime corridor are on the way.

A British shipment of almost 100 tonnes of aid departed from Cyprus on Wednesday, while a US-flagged vessel set sail from Cyprus last week.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the US Central Command deputy commander, mentioned on Thursday that thousands of tons of aid were in the pipeline, adding that they will receive almost 500 tons (onshore) over the next few days.

US officials have stated that the pier would initially tackle 90 trucks daily, but that number could reach 150.

The United Nations has said 500 trucks daily are needed to enter Gaza.

In April, it was reported that the maximum volume of commercial and humanitarian supplies entering Gaza since the war started has been an average of 189 trucks a day.

However, the aid access has diminished since Israel started a military mission in the southern Rafah area of Gaza.

A massive fuel shortage in Gaza has compelled the UN to warn that aid operations may be shut down.

Sonali Korde, the assistant to the administrator associated with the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, stated on Thursday that she anticipated having the fuel necessary to operate the pier.

Israel’s military, a source who knows about the operation said, decides on making adequate supplies available for the operation on a regular and predictable basis.

Aid is going to be shipped starting from Cyprus, where Israel will first examine the cargo.

The US troops that are operating the pier will not step ashore in Gaza.

Once on land, the aid coming off the pier will follow a challenging and still uncertain path to reach the Gaza civilians.

According to US and UN officials, a third party will collect the aid via the pier, drive it a short distance, and then offload it for the UN collection.

The UN official mentioned that another third party—contracted by the UN—will help load the aid on trucks and take it to the distribution points across Gaza.

The UN official said the plan is for UN staff to be stationed close to the pier to supervise and direct aid trucks to distribution points throughout Gaza, but the plan hasn’t yet been approved by the UN Department of Safety and Security.

A UN team visiting the pier site late last month had to shelter in a bunker when the area was attacked.

The UN has lately been concerned regarding maintaining neutrality by remaining an appropriate distance from the Israeli military, which will provide logistics and security support for the pier.

The UN official mentioned that at no point will there be any contact between Israel’s military and the UN staff.

Reference: Reuters

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Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

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