UN emergency aid hub in UAE allows for 'effective response' to Gaza war

Aid to Gaza Strip has dropped in recent days as Israel widens its offensive

UN aid hub in UAE allows for quick response to the Gaza crisis, says senior WFP worker

UN aid hub in UAE allows for quick response to the Gaza crisis, says senior WFP worker
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The presence of the UN emergency aid hub in the UAE allows for an effective response to Gaza's humanitarian crisis, a senior official from the World Food Programme told The National on Thursday.

“Being in Dubai offers an additional element of responsiveness being just few hours away from the entry point of Al Arish into the corridor that is now open in Rafah,” said Walid Ibrahim, network co-ordinator of the WFP-managed UN Humanitarian Response Depot.

Since the war on Gaza began on October 7, the Rafah crossing on the border of Egypt has been the only entry point for aid lorries carrying desperately needed food, medicines, water and fuel.

In recent days, the number of lorries crossing daily has dropped to fewer than 100, from nearly 200 when the week-long truce was in effect between November 24 and December 1.

The UN has been calling for direct and unhindered access to Gaza and says the aid delivered is only a fraction of what Gazans need.

More than 1.9 million people – 85 per cent of Gaza's population – have been displaced since Israel launched its offensive on the strip.

Mr Ibrahim said there must be unhindered access into Gaza to distribute aid across the area.

“Our primary ask is that of access – we need to ensure that the needs of the population inside Gaza are met,” he said.

International aid to ease the burden of the wide-scale humanitarian crisis in Gaza has been pouring in, but challenges remain in transporting supplies safely into the besieged enclave from Egypt, currently the only route in.

“That can only be achieved if unconditional access is given for the content community to be able to access Gaza, and provide this life saving assistance,” he said.

In previous years, the WFP has been working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure aid from the UAE reaches those in need.

“This outlet has been a lifeline to the humanitarian community to be able to respond to a wide range of emergencies in the last couple of decades,” Mr Ibrahim said.

The International Humanitarian City is the only non-profit, independent, humanitarian free-zone authority and hosts a community of about 80 UN organisations, non-profits and NGOs, in addition to commercial companies.

The IHC community consists of about 500 people representing 68 nationalities.

The WFP manages the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai, with similar outlets in Panama, Italy, Ghana and Malaysia.

“The presence in Dubai, and the presence that the IHC has facilitated for the humanitarian community continues to be very, very relevant,” Mr Ibrahim said.

During the past two decades, the UAE has “offered an invaluable support” for humanitarian crises across the Middle East and beyond.

“This ranges from the warehouse space that we are speaking from right now to very often in-kind donations of assets to transport goods into the affected areas,” he said.

Updated: December 08, 2023, 10:00 AM