Aid to Gaza slows as fuel shortages bring UN humanitarian efforts close to collapse

UNRWA says the 24,000 litres of fuel that entered Gaza on Tuesday night will meet only 9 per cent of its needs

A fuel tanker crosses into Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. AFP
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Another round of lorries carrying aid entered the Gaza strip from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, the Egyptian Red Crescent said on Wednesday, without disclosing the exact number.

Moving foreign citizens from the enclave continued on Wednesday, with the Gaza border authority issuing another list of foreigners who have been approved for departure from Gaza.

The list comprised about 600 people.

The first shipment of fuel was allowed by Israel into the Gaza strip on Tuesday night, a volunteer who delivered the shipment told The National.

The shipment, however, was not sent to Gaza’s hospitals where services have largely collapsed due to a shortage of fuel, but was received by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which said several of its vehicles had run out of fuel in the enclave.

Thomas White, the director of UNRWA affairs, confirmed in a post on X, formally Twitter, on Wednesday that one shipment of fuel amounting to 23,027 litres or half a tanker, was received by the organisation in Gaza.

“This is only 9 per cent of what we need daily to sustain life-saving activities,” Mr White wrote on X.

The UNRWA said on Tuesday that its humanitarian activities in Gaza were on the verge of collapse due to a lack of fuel, with Mr White saying in an earlier post on X that any aid coming into Gaza could not be distributed without the immediate entry of fuel.

Israel has thus far not allowed any shipments of fuel to enter the enclave, which it controls through checkpoints set up at the Rafah crossing on the border between Gaza and Egypt. It claims the fuel could be used by militants and not civilians.

“UNRWA set off alarm bells over the fuel situation three weeks ago, warning about its fast-depleting supplies, and the impact on life-saving operations,” the organisation said, “Since then, we have heavily rationed the use of fuel and accessed pre-existing, limited amounts stored in a depot inside the Gaza Strip, through close co-ordination with Israeli authorities.”

Saudi ambassador in Egypt Osama bin Ahmed Nugali visited the crossing on Wednesday to express the kingdom’s solidarity with the Palestinian people, Egyptian state-affiliated media reported.

Saudi Arabia has thus far sent seven planes carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, the last of which arrived on Saturday in the Egyptian North Sinai city of Al Arish, where all aid to the enclave is co-ordinated.

Kuwait and Qatar are the third and fourth largest donors of aid to Gaza since the start of the war with Egypt being the first and Libya the second, according to the Red Crescent.

Kuwait and Qatar have sent 412 and 286 tonnes respectively since the start of the war.

Updated: November 16, 2023, 3:36 AM