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UN food agency warns that the new US sea route for Gaza aid may fail unless conditions improve

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UN food agency warns that the new US sea route for Gaza aid may fail unless conditions improve
News

News

UN food agency warns that the new US sea route for Gaza aid may fail unless conditions improve

2024-05-22 07:55 Last Updated At:08:00

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday the new U.S. $320 million pier project for delivering aid to Gaza may fail unless Israel starts ensuring the conditions the humanitarian groups need to operate safely. The operation was halted for at least two days after crowds looted aid trucks coming from the port and one Palestinian man was killed.

Deliveries were stopped Sunday and Monday after the majority of the trucks in an aid convoy Saturday were stripped of all their goods on the way to a warehouse in central Gaza, the WFP said. The first aid transported by sea had entered the besieged enclave on Friday.

The Pentagon said movement of aid from the secured area at the port resumed Tuesday, but the U.N. said it was not aware of any deliveries on Tuesday.

The U.N. food agency is now reevaluating logistics and security measures and looking for alternate routes within Gaza, said spokesperson Abeer Etefa. The WFP is working with the U.S. Agency for International Development to coordinate the deliveries.

Only five of the 16 aid trucks that left the secured area on Saturday arrived at the intended warehouse with their cargo intact, another WFP spokesperson, Steve Taravella, told The Associated Press. He said the other 11 trucks were waylaid by what became a crowd of people and arrived without their cargo.

“Without sufficient supplies entering Gaza, these issues will continue to surface. Community acceptance and trust that this is not a one-off event are essential for this operation’s success,” Taravella said in an email. “We have raised this issue with the relevant parties and reiterated our request for alternative roads to facilitate aid delivery. Unless we receive the necessary clearance and coordination to use additional routes, this operation may not be successful.”

The WFP also said Tuesday it has suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to a lack of supplies and insecurity.

President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. military’s construction of the floating pier for deliveries of food and other vital supplies. Israeli restrictions on shipments through land borders and overall fighting have put all 2.3 million residents of Gaza in a severe food crisis since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, and U.S. and U.N. officials say famine has taken hold in the north of Gaza.

Authorities have offered limited details of what transpired with Saturday's aid convoy. However, Associated Press video shows Israeli armored vehicles on a beach road, then aid trucks moving down the road. Civilians watching from the roadside gradually start to clamber on top of the aid trucks, throwing aid down to people below. Numbers of people then appear to overrun the aid trucks and their goods.

At one point, people are shown carting a motionless man with a chest wound through the crowd. A local morgue later confirmed to the AP the man had been killed by a rifle shot. At another point, shots crackled, and some of the men in the crowd are shown apparently ducking behind aid boxes for cover.

It was not clear who fired the shots. The Israeli military is responsible for security for the aid when it reaches the shore. Once it leaves the secure area at the port, aid groups follow their own security protocols.

Asked about the shooting, the Israeli army told the AP, using the acronym for the Israel Defense Forces: “The IDF is currently focused on eliminating the threat from the terrorist organization Hamas.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that the aid convoys do not travel with armed security. He said the best security comes from engagement with various community groups and humanitarian partners so people understand that there will be a constant flow of aid. “That is not possible in an active combat zone," Dujarric said.

The Pentagon press secretary, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, said that as of Tuesday 569 metric tons of aid has been delivered to the secured area at the Gaza port. Some of it remains there, however, because distribution agencies are working to find alternative routes to warehouses in Gaza.

Asked if any aid from the pier had yet reached Gaza residents in need, Ryder said, “I do not believe so.” He said aid had resumed moving Tuesday from the secured area into Gaza, after what had been a two-day halt following Saturday's disruption. He gave no immediate details.

Etefa, the WFP spokesperson in Cairo, said she knew of no deliveries from the shore on Tuesday, however.

Biden announced the U.S. mission to open a new sea route for humanitarian goods during his State of the Union address in March, as pressure built on the administration over civilian deaths in Gaza.

The war began in October after a Hamas-led attack killed about 1,200 people in Israel. Israeli airstrikes and fighting have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians since then, Gaza health officials say.

Many international humanitarian organizations were critical of the U.S. project, saying that while any aid was welcome, surging food through the land crossings was the only way to curb the growing starvation. Jeremy Konyndyk, a former USAID official now leading the Refugees International humanitarian organization, called the pier operation “humanitarian theater” and said it was being done for political effect.

The U.N says some 1.1 million people in Gaza — nearly half the population — face catastrophic levels of hunger and that the territory is on the brink of famine. The crisis in humanitarian supplies has spiraled in the two weeks since Israel began an incursion into Rafah on May 6, vowing to root out Hamas fighters. Troops seized the Rafah crossing into Egypt, which has been closed since.

Since May 10, only about three dozen trucks have made it into Gaza via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel because fighting makes it difficult for aid workers to reach it, the U.N. says.

Taravella said little aid or fuel — needed to run aid delivery trucks — is currently reaching any part of Gaza, and stocks of both are almost exhausted.

“The bottom line is that humanitarian operations in Gaza are near collapse,” he wrote.

Magdy reported from Cairo. Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.

The image provided by U.S, Central Command, shows U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defense Forces placing the Trident Pier on the coast of Gaza Strip on Thursday, May 16, 2024. The temporary pier is part of the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore capability. The U.S. military finished installing the floating pier on Thursday, with officials poised to begin ferrying badly needed humanitarian aid into the enclave besieged over seven months of intense fighting in the Israel-Hamas war. (U.S. Central Command via AP)

The image provided by U.S, Central Command, shows U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defense Forces placing the Trident Pier on the coast of Gaza Strip on Thursday, May 16, 2024. The temporary pier is part of the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore capability. The U.S. military finished installing the floating pier on Thursday, with officials poised to begin ferrying badly needed humanitarian aid into the enclave besieged over seven months of intense fighting in the Israel-Hamas war. (U.S. Central Command via AP)

This image provided by the U.S. Army shows trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the United States Agency for International Development cross the Trident Pier before arriving on the beach on the Gaza Strip Friday, May 17, 2024. Trucks carrying badly needed aid for the Gaza Strip rolled across a newly built U.S. pier and into the besieged enclave for the first time Friday as Israeli restrictions on border crossings and heavy fighting hindered the delivery of food and other supplies.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kelby Sanders)

This image provided by the U.S. Army shows trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the United States Agency for International Development cross the Trident Pier before arriving on the beach on the Gaza Strip Friday, May 17, 2024. Trucks carrying badly needed aid for the Gaza Strip rolled across a newly built U.S. pier and into the besieged enclave for the first time Friday as Israeli restrictions on border crossings and heavy fighting hindered the delivery of food and other supplies.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kelby Sanders)

Palestinians are storming trucks loaded with humanitarian aid brought in through a new U.S.-built pier, in the central Gaza Strip, Saturday, May 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians are storming trucks loaded with humanitarian aid brought in through a new U.S.-built pier, in the central Gaza Strip, Saturday, May 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians are storming trucks loaded with humanitarian aid brought in through a new U.S.-built pier, in the central Gaza Strip, Saturday, May 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians are storming trucks loaded with humanitarian aid brought in through a new U.S.-built pier, in the central Gaza Strip, Saturday, May 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Next Article

Emma Raducanu beats Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-0 at Eastbourne

2024-06-26 06:57 Last Updated At:07:00

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) — Emma Raducanu is in no rush these days.

The 2021 U.S. Open champion skipped the French Open and decided not to play at the Paris Olympics.

Raducanu sent a message after beating Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-0 in the first round of the grass-court Eastbourne International on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Raducanu wrote “My own pace” on a courtside TV camera at Devonshire Park.

Raducanu will be a wild-card entry for Wimbledon next week after missing last year's tournament because of hand and ankle injuries.

“I’m going to do things on my own time,” she said after beating Stephens, the 2017 champion at Flushing Meadows. “I'm in no rush to do anything.”

She added that she's “less susceptible to outside opinions or views.”

Raducanu will next face No. 5 Jessica Pegula, who won the title at the Berlin Ladies Open on Sunday.

On Monday, top-seeded Elena Rybakina withdrew from Eastbourne. She was the 2022 Wimbledon champion.

In men's first-round play, Lorenzo Sonego beat Henry Searle 6-3, 6-2, and Emil Ruusuvuori defeated Cam Norrie 7-6 (9), 6-3.

AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

USA's Sloane Stephens, top, plays Britain's Emma Raducanu on day four of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, england, Tuesday June 25, 2024. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

USA's Sloane Stephens, top, plays Britain's Emma Raducanu on day four of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, england, Tuesday June 25, 2024. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

USA's Sloane Stephens plays Britain's Emma Raducanu on day four of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, england, Tuesday June 25, 2024. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

USA's Sloane Stephens plays Britain's Emma Raducanu on day four of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, england, Tuesday June 25, 2024. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

Great Britain's Emma Raducanu in action against USA's Sloane Stephens on day four of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, England, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

Great Britain's Emma Raducanu in action against USA's Sloane Stephens on day four of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, England, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

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