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Trucks to Gaza Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
Trucks to Gaza Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
 
 

Aid agencies in Gaza resume deliveries

Red Cross brings in 7 truckloads of medical supplies Monday; UNRWA, World Food Program delivering food since Sunday but say situation still dire

Associated Press
Published: 01.12.09, 22:08 / Israel News

Aid agencies said Monday they have resumed relief operations in Gaza, but fighting still prevents them from evacuating the sickest people and reaching all those who need help.

 

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The UN announced Friday that it would resume staff movement and aid deliveries in Gaza after receiving assurances from the Israeli Ministry of Defense that aid workers would be better protected. It had suspended some of its work Thursday after gunfire from an Israeli tank killed one aid truck driver and injured two others.

 

The international Red Cross said it brought in seven truckloads of medical supplies Monday and would distribute them to hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of patients.

 

Shifa Hospital, the main medical facility in Gaza City, is running low on fuel for generators, said Dorothea Krimitsas, spokeswoman for the Geneva headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

 

"That puts the treatment of 470 patients at risk, including 60 patients in the intensive care unit," said Krimitsas. "The capacity of this intensive care unit in normal times is 16."

 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) brought food and other aid to about 10,000 people on Sunday, said spokesman Johan Eriksson, after a convoy of 53 trucks was able to ship in food, medicine, blankets, mattreses and tents from Israel to Gaza City.

 

But, he said, the daily three-hour lull declared by Israel to allow aid groups to work in besieged areas "is of very little significance to us because these trucks have to be on the road from the break of dawn until after nightfall." 

 

The agency has received isolated reports of people burning furniture to cook in makeshift ovens, Eriksson said, adding that 1 million people in Gaza are still without electricity. The situation for civilians is "extremely dire," he said.

 

The World Food Program handed out 1,200 monthly food rations to people in Gaza and 1,400 emergency bread packages Sunday, said spokeswoman Emilia Casella. But the agency has been unable to reach many people who need food, she said.

 

In Brussels on Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the Czech presidency of the European Union wants an international donors' conference to raise funds for the Gaza Strip when hostilities end.

 

"Right now is the moment to seriously consider steps to be taken as soon as a cease-fire is reached," Schwarzenberg said in a statement.

 

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