Egypt's aid hub for Gaza has 'more than enough' supplies but convoys remain slow moving

Aid is trickling into Gaza in a fragile arrangement between Israel and international donors

On board UAE's C-130 military plane carrying aid for Gaza

On board UAE's C-130 military plane carrying aid for Gaza
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Egypt’s Red Crescent said it has enough humanitarian aid to fulfil Gaza’s needs “and more”, if the Rafah border crossing with the enclave under bombardment opens permanently.

“The aid that has reached Egypt so far is so large that it’s enough to fulfil Gaza’s needs and more if the border was permanently opened. We want to reassure the people of Gaza that we are very well prepared to meet their needs,” Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in North Sinai, told The National on the tarmac at Al Arish military airport on Monday.

Aid is trickling into Gaza in a fragile arrangement between Israel and international donors, to allow convoys to cross after being inspected by UN and Israeli officials, about 20 lorries a day out of at least 100 that are required.

Mr Zayed’s remarks came after a fifth aid flight took off from Dubai on Monday, carrying 9.4 metric tonnes of medical assistance to Al Arish, about 45km away from the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

The World Health Organisation-supplied assistance includes medicine and tents that can act as makeshift clinics in the enclave now under its 17th day of bombardment.

“Body bags were among one of the first items sent to Rafah for Gaza,” a humanitarian official aboard the flight told The National, as the death toll passed 5,000 on Monday.

It is feared thousands more could die in the absence of more food, medicine and fresh water supplies.

The UAE-operated C-130 Hercules military plane carrying supplies took six hours, instead of the usual three to arrive at Al Arish base, but has made several similar trips earlier under the UAE’s humanitarian corridor for Gaza.

“So far, we have received 700 metric tonnes of aid through the Al Arish base in participation with the Red Crescent in Egypt and its counterparts,” Mr Zayed, told The National.

While there, The National witnessed three more military planes land from Turkey, Iraq and Kuwait.

“We co-ordinate with the Red Crescent in Gaza, which informs us of the needs they’re prioritising and based on that, we begin by lining up the lorries and the aid they’re carrying then sending through what they need, in terms of surgical and medical tools,” another official from the Red Crescent told The National.

Already, 57 lorries have entered Rafah but have had an almost negligible relief impact given how dire the situation is in hospitals where it’s only a matter of hours before fuel runs out. Doctors in Gaza have told The National they will have few options except “watching their patients die” without fuel for generators.

The UAE is sending more flights to Egypt using aid provided by the International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai, alongside assistance gathered through the Tarahum Gaza campaign launched on October 21.

Including Monday’s trip, the IHC has sent 46 metric tonnes of aid to Egypt including emergency kits, food and trauma kits to help alleviate the suffering of people who are having to undergo surgery without anaesthesia.

Tensions in the Rafah area remain high however, as fighting and bombing raids have been reported throughout the small but densely populated Gaza Strip. On Monday, Israeli tank fire accidentally struck an Egyptian army position, wounding several soldiers and putting the Egyptian army on high alert. Israel later issued an apology “expressing sorrow” for the incident.

Updated: October 24, 2023, 9:53 AM