Confusing and arbitrary regulations around the type of aid permitted to enter Gaza are causing thousands of essential items to be stopped at border crossings, preventing them from reaching those in desperate need.
Critical medical supplies, including oxygen cylinders and anesthetics crucial for treating injuries from airstrikes, are among the items being denied entry during inspections. This impacts the lives of an average 10 children daily who are having one or both of their legs amputated. Stone fruit is being refused entry under the pretext of potential misuses as bullets or for planting trees, despite a looming famine. Even tent poles, essential for sheltering Gaza’s 1.9 million displaced people, are also being turned away, ActionAid has heard.
The lack of clarity and transparency around which items are allowed to enter Gaza is increasing the time spent on screening trucks, leading to a backlog at the border. Before October 7, an average of 500 trucks carrying humanitarian aid and other supplies entered Gaza each day, but now the Israeli authorities are restricting the number allowed access. On Wednesday only 98 trucks in total entered Gaza. The Kerem Shalom crossing – one of the main transit points for goods into Gaza which has the capacity to process up to 1,000 trucks per day – opened in December, yet since then only 22% of aid trucks into Gaza have crossed at this location, according to UNOCHA.
The December UN Security Council resolution advocated for more aid to enter Gaza and also called for a UN mechanism to monitor aid entering the territory – but this has yet to be implemented. We call for any screening process to be neutral, transparent and quick, to ensure that much-needed critical supplies can make it into the territory, and for restrictions on the number of trucks allowed in to be raised to, as a minimum, the pre-October 7 levels.
Moreover, not only is there a lack of fuel to transport the aid that does make it through inspection, but many roads have been destroyed by airstrikes making it difficult to deliver to impacted communities. There are also frequent communication blackouts which make coordinating distribution near impossible. Right now, Gaza has now been experiencing a blackout since January 12, making it the longest yet. Aid workers inside Gaza, including our own staff members, are utterly exhausted and under immense pressure to coordinate this critical support, despite facing the same hunger, loss, and trauma as the rest of the population.
Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine, said:
“It is incredibly frustrating that crucial aid is being prevented from entering Gaza when we know the level of need has soared to a staggering high. We now face a farcical situation in which mere miles separate warehouses teeming with rejected but vital items like food and medical supplies, and desperate people who are starving and in pain.
There must be more clarity, transparency and consistency on which items are permitted. The duty of all parties in a conflict to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians is enshrined under humanitarian law. Currently, the inspection process is far too slow and the number of trucks permitted entry far too low. The relevant parties must do more to speed up the process and allow more trucks of aid into Gaza each day if there is to be any hope of averting a widespread famine and rising deaths from infection, illness and disease.
Yet ultimately, even allowing more aid into Gaza will do nothing to stop dozens of deaths and injuries from airstrikes each day, which is why we will keep demanding an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Problems with distributing aid will continue until bombs stop falling and it is safe and practically feasible to reach people in need at scale. The situation is catastrophic, the people of Gaza can’t afford to wait any longer.”
For media requests, please email Jenna.Farineau@actionaid.org or call 202-731-9593.
Spokespeople are available:
- Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director of ActionAid USA
- Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine
ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 41 million people living in more than 71 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.