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Re-opening of key Gaza border crossing welcomed by UN aid agency

Re-opening of key Gaza border crossing welcomed by UN aid agency

WFP continues food assistance in Gaza
The United Nations agency tasked with helping Palestinian refugees today welcomed the opening of the Karni crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which has allowed 5,000 tons of wheat to reach Gaza.

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) spokesperson Chris Gunness said it was now crucial that Karni is permanently open and fully functional.

“If we are to avoid total aid dependency for Gaza, we need to get commercial imports and exports moving,” Mr. Gunness said.

UNRWA and other UN aid agencies have been warning that Gaza faces food shortages within weeks unless the border crossing points into Israel are re-opened after they were closed during the deadly intra-Palestinian fighting that erupted earlier this month.

The Karni crossing is considered particularly vital as it used to handle 200 to 300 trucks each day and is the main commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The Erez crossing remains open to international agencies’ staff and to health referrals to Israel, while no interruptions have so far occurred along the Nahal Oz line, which supplies petrol, diesel and cooking gas to Gaza. But the Rafah crossing – the main crossing for people – has been closed since 10 June, and an estimated 5,000 Palestinians are waiting at the Egyptian border to return to their homes in Gaza.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said UN agencies are currently meeting the basic needs of the Gaza Strip’s estimated 1.4 million residents, with about 80 to 90 trucks carrying relief supplies able to enter the territory daily.

But there is still a long way to go, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said today.

“Everyone is working hard on this and I welcome the news of our increased capacity to deliver urgently-needed aid in Gaza, but I cannot over-emphasize the importance of ensuring the resumption of full-scale supplies through the main crossing points and beginning to open up regular economic access too.”

Since the crisis began in the Gaza Strip, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reported that there are 100,000 additional recipients of food aid in the crowded territory. The Programme helps about 377,000 people in Gaza, while UNRWA provides food assistance to some 860,000 others there.