Hopes rise for UN mission to ‘flood’ Gaza with food despite fears of impending Rafah invasion — Global Issues

According to the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories: jamie mcgoldrickHe spoke at length to UN News, exactly six months after hostilities began with a Hamas-led terrorist attack. He stressed that the UN’s entire aid operation is “only about saving lives and nothing else.”

The veteran humanitarian spoke as the Israel Defense Forces announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing its troops from Gaza to prepare for “future operations.” At the time, Israeli leaders also pledged to increase the amount and flow of aid in the wake of the Gaza incident. Pressure from Washington – However, it is unclear when policy changes will materialize.

Mr McGoldrick said the combination of growing international condemnation and political and domestic pressure following the killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, and months of UN assistance, had led to a crisis in the face of desperate Gazans. This should lead to an expansion of aid to the

Israelis are “slowly but surely” realizing the scale of the humanitarian crisis, especially in northern Gaza.Hopefully all these pipelines open up and we can fill the place with food and other items and prepare for what’s coming next.“, He said.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

UN News: I would have to start with reporting on the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Gaza. What do you think about that?

Jamie McGoldrick: I think this stage of the military operation must have ended with Khan Yunis. I think that’s where they’re withdrawing the brigade. What that means is that if things go well, those areas may become even safer and people may be able to start returning to their places. However, this is also a worrying issue as they are probably trying to restructure and prepare for the planned invasion of Rafah.

UN News: You mentioned that Israel has made several promises to increase aid to Gaza, also in response to repeated requests from the United Nations. You made seven promises. Can you explain the most important of them?

Jamie McGoldrick:Well I think so The most important of them is to obtain more openings and more pipelines to Gaza. So we’re very limited in what we can bring in right now.

There is only one major crossing into Rafah, Kerem Shalom, which can accommodate 250 trucks per day. You should get up to about 500 plus per day. And to make that happen, we’ve been calling from the beginning to bring in more of the actual pipeline from the Jordanian pipeline, but right now we’re only getting 100 trucks a week.

United Nations News/Ziad Taleb

Children fill containers with drinking water in the al-Shaboula neighborhood of Rafah, southern Gaza.

There should be 30 to 50 trucks per day. And then Ashdod in the north, which is a very well-functioning modern port, but we’re calling for it to be reopened. If that happens, an additional 100 trucks could be transported each day.

So Combined with Kerem Shalom, these will operate nearly 500 trucks a day to meet the needs of the field.. And more importantly, starvation is imminent in the north.

UN News: According to communications with the Israeli side. When do you think these initiatives will be implemented and when do you think Gazans will start to feel their impact?

Jamie McGoldrick: Yes, please hurry. Friday’s meeting was told that these things are underway and preparations are being made.. And we know that there was a meeting yesterday in Jordan with all the officials from the United States, the United Nations, the Jordanian military, to come up with some way to deal with the pipeline that is currently limited.

Similarly, we are working with the Israeli side to determine when we can open the port of Ashdod to supply more supplies and put them directly into Erez or one of the other northern transit points without having to come south. I’m looking for.

I think that would allow us to increase the amount of food coming in very quickly and quickly. At the moment, Only 10-20 trucks come north every day, but we need 30 every day without failTo address acute food insecurity and looming hunger, especially among the most vulnerable people on the ground.

UN News: The commitments range from plans to intentions and guarantees, but are they enough to make the leap the UN seeks in aid delivery and avert looming famine in Gaza?

jamie mcgoldrick No, I think what we have on the table are these developments that were promised to us. And, as you remember, they are pushing for these opportunities, pushing for a bigger pipeline, better deconfliction and better collaboration with the military, with the IDF, as a result of a long advocacy campaign by us and the country team. We have been promoting this.

And tragically, It only happened as a result of a very serious incident in which seven World Central Kitchen employees were recently murdered. And politically, there is pressure from President Biden and a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

I think all of them combined At about the same time this past week, that allowed us to begin to get some, or should I say, some of the concessions that we’ve been demanding for some time.

There’s a point there, and maybe it means we shouldn’t expect everything to be delivered right away, but we can start working on it.

But more importantly, public declarations can lock them up., and can push back. And now we have high-level delegations in the region and in Tel Aviv working on a number of issues, including all these new commitments and concessions that have been given to us.

UN News: You have said that in recent days Israel has recognized the immense scale of suffering in the Gaza Strip and its ability to facilitate the expansion of aid. Is that another argument that the United Nations was actually prepared to do everything it could, but had so many constraints? And in your assessment, before the immeasurable suffering and the ability to promote it, it was not so clear to the Israeli authorities?

Jamie McGoldrick: I think we have to recognize that There are multiple Israels. In other words, it is not a homogeneous body. You have the political side of things, which currently leans very far to the right.

There is also a war cabinet made up of people with very serious war objectives after the tragic events of October 7th. And there is also civil society, which is pressing for the release of the hostages.

And that’s Israeli civil society and politicians combined. And then there’s the military, the military itself, the Israel Defense Forces, the Coordination Liaison Office, and COGAT, which is an agency that we deal with regularly.So There are many fragments.

So you have to find a way to convince them and make them understand.and Slowly but surely it happened. And I think that’s a direct result of the evidence that we have shown that in the North, more children are dying from malnutrition and weakness than they should be.

They need to understand why we are there and what we are going to do and that it is only to save lives and nothing else.

And two weeks ago at Kamal Adwan’s hospital, I witnessed firsthand the depth and misery of the people in the children’s ward. That shouldn’t have happened in this day and age..

And I think it’s a combination of politics and push and advocacy from the highest levels of people like President Biden and the entire team that’s here in the region for this. And I think there’s a general perception that no progress has been made and that we’ve been calling this issue out for a long time.

and We are now landing in different parts of Israel and telling them that they have to do more for us and that we have to allow them to do more for the people of Gaza, and that they I think people are starting to understand that they shouldn’t be suspicious or distrustful.

They should understand why we are there. All we are trying to do is save lives and nothing else..

A tent built from canned goods in the middle of a makeshift shelter in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip.

United Nations News/Ziad Taleb

A tent built from canned goods in the middle of a makeshift shelter in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip.

UN News: And if all these commitments are implemented, what are the other challenges facing the delivery of aid that you worry about?

Jamie McGoldrick: Well, I think what we’re facing right now is a situation of very unstable and very hostile military activity. Millions of people are suffering. Everyone in Gaza needs some help from us..

And there’s the fact that law and order issues are definitely involved there because people are so desperate. So when they see a truck, they come and attack the truck, loot it, loot it.

That means some of the food isn’t reaching everyone it should reach. Therefore, it is important to keep things stable. And the way we stabilize things is just to swamp the place. flood the place with food everywhere.

De-monetize it and take away the value it has. And the stability of that condition allows for a much easier way to provide assistance.

Because, at the moment, the planning period is 2-3 days. We only have a few days’ worth of stock in the country at any given time, and that has to change – instability, lawlessness and security vacuum. – And we know that Rafah’s invasion is coming and we need to stock up in advance so we can get a lot of food for ourselves. And for now, you can’t do that.

UN News: When you say you know the Rafah invasion is coming, you have no hope that maybe this can be avoided, that the Israeli side is heeding world pressure and starting to respond aggressively. Is it?

Jamie McGoldrick:I think they hear it. But I think they also have a war purpose. I think that takes precedence over humanitarian objectives.

And I think we have to be put in a situation where we realize that for them the war is not over, that for them the endgame has not yet arrived.and I think Khan Younis’ withdrawal is to prepare for what’s next..

And I think that’s the case even among the Israeli people who are demanding the return of the hostages, and polls show that the vast majority are very much in favor of ending this issue through Rafah.

And for us, we are not involved in population movement.but We have to be prepared for the possibility of people leaving Rafah, because there are few places for them to go.. And for us, especially at this time when the weather gets very hot and we need mobile health support and protection, it really helps to have enough supplies, non-food items, shelter, materials and water in place in advance. I’m having a hard time.

So all of these are really big issues for us, and we don’t really have the capacity, the resources, the ability to do that at this point. And we’re really struggling to prepare for that.So Hopefully, with all these pipelines opened and new openings in the north, we can start filling that space with food and other goods.so you can be ready for whatever happens next.

UN News: So, is it basically a race against time?

Jamie McGoldrick: Well, we’re doing that now. We basically just live hand to mouth.. We have done little to address the problems we face. Our pipeline is short, our inventory is small, and the need is huge.

And, of course, this does not include North Korea, which is even more dire in terms of humanitarian needs. Until we can deal with it, We are not in a position to say we can stock up like we would in other emergencies.other disasters…still Up to 800,000 people could be displaced as plans move forward to invade Rafah.

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