Mercy Corps Urges Improved Access for Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza

For Immediate Release

Mercy Corps
Contact: 

Joy Portella, 206.437.7885, jportella@sea.mercycorps.org
Helen Thompson, 646.270.8477, hthompson@nyc.mercycorps.org.

Mercy Corps Urges Improved Access for Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza

Delayed food shipment crosses border, second shipment waits as aid group intensifies call for access

PORTLAND, Oregon - The
global relief and development agency Mercy Corps has issued an urgent
call for immediate humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip. After three
days of repeated delays, the first shipment of Mercy Corps relief
supplies – seven metric tons of food – has crossed into the territory.
A second shipment funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) is awaiting approval from Israeli authorities to be
brought into Gaza.

Mercy
Corps’ team in Jerusalem reports that Israel's new daily three-hour
ceasefire to allow aid into the Gaza Strip has not made any noticeable
difference. “It hasn’t changed our reality,” says David Holdridge,
Mercy Corps Regional Program Director for the Middle East. “We’re still
dealing with the same approval processes for aid, and only a limited
number of trucks are going in each day – not nearly enough to satisfy
the pressing needs for food, shelter, medical supplies and other items.”
Holdridge
notes that passage into Gaza is not the only difficulty. “Once we get
aid in, we are faced with the challenge of how to move it around a
territory that’s been divided in half by the military operation,”
explains Holdridge. “And how do we get food and blankets to people who
are too afraid to leave their homes?”
These
comments came after three days of repeated delays of a shipment
carrying food for hungry Gazans. Entry was first postponed after
Israeli ground troops went into the territory and border restrictions
increased. The shipment was delayed a second time on Wednesday morning
because some of its previously approved contents, specifically dates,
were deemed unacceptable as a non-essential item. The food shipment –
minus the dates but plus an additional three tons of rice – crossed
into Gaza on Thursday morning.
A
second Mercy Corps shipment funded by USAID contains $220,000 worth of
food, medical supplies, and essentials like soap, water purification
tablets, candles and blankets. This shipment joined a queue of
humanitarian assistance waiting to enter the territory.
 
Mercy
Corps has invited its community of online activists to speak out about
the issue of humanitarian access to the highest levels of United States
government. More than 2,600 people have responded, signing an online
petition to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of
State-Designate Hillary Clinton calling on the U.S. to “take immediate
steps to encourage full humanitarian access for supplies to enter into
Gaza, and for access within Gaza to ensure supplies reach those in
urgent need.” The petition can be viewed and signed at http://is.gd/eJru.
The agency is also accepting donations to support its relief efforts at www.mercycorps.org/gazacrisis.
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