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EU Initiates Air Bridge for Gaza Aid

2023 Oct 17, 13:02, Brussels [Belgium]

Amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the European Union launched an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge Operation consisting of several flights to Egypt to deliver lifesaving supplies to aid organisations opeating in Gaza.

The first two flights carrying humanitarian cargo from UNICEF, including shelter items, medicines and hygiene kits will deliver lifesaving supplies this week, European Commission announced in a press release. The operation launched by EU via the European Humanitarian Response Capacity will facilitate the delivery of assistance to people in need in Gaza.

Furthermore, additional emergency items from EU emergency stockpiles are available and ready to be sent to European Union's humanitarian partners as soon as requested, according to European Commission's press release.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU has tripled its humanitarian assistance to more than Euro 75 million to support civilians in need in Gaza. The assistance will be send to Gaza through selected EU humanitarian partners operating on the ground taking into account capacity and access. Notably, the EU has been providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need since 2000.

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic stressed that the situation in Gaza is about to reach "breaking point." He called for reopening of Rafah border crossing and stressed that people in Gaza desperately need fuel, water, food and medicine must reach people trapped in Gaza immediately.

In the press release, Lenarcic said, "To provide further support to the humanitarian partner organisations on the ground, the EU is also launching its humanitarian air bridge operation to Egypt, flying in lifesaving supplies. In line with International Humanitarian Law, the warring parties are obliged to protect civilians and ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to civilians.

"Once the supplies reach Gaza, it is imperative that the humanitarian workers are able to do their work, which is to deliver assistance to those in need and save lives. The safety of humanitarian staff to bring these supplies to people in need without any impediments must be ensured," he added.

More than 100 trucks carrying humanitarian aid are currently at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, waiting to be allowed into Gaza, The Times of Israel reported citing Al Arabiya.

Trucks will be allowed to enter Gaza at 9 am (local time) on Tuesday, according to the news report. There have been several media reports in recent days about Rafah reopening that proved to be false.

On Monday, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Dennis Francis called for the release of hostages taken from Israel and providing uninterrupted access of civilians to humanitarian aid in Gaza.

In a post on X, Francis has echoed the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' appeal for the "immediate release" of hostages from Israel.

"I join the @UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres in his appeal for the immediate release of all hostages taken from Israel & for the unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza in line with international law," posted the UNGA President on X.

"Civilians have been suffering the horrific consequences of violence since the attacks by Hamas against Israel on October 7. I join the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his appeal for the immediate release of all hostages taken from Israel and for the unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza in line with international law," the post added. 


Gaza EU European Union humanitarian air bridge operation rafah border crossing EU Humanitarian Air Bridge Operation Egypt Ursula von der Leyen
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