The Struggle to Deliver Aid in Gaza

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This blog post provides an overview of the challenges faced by international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) delivering humanitarian aid in Gaza since January 26, 2024. Based on a survey conducted by members of the AIDA (Association of International Development Agencies), representing 24 INGOs operating in Gaza, the findings shed light on the obstacles encountered during this period. Note: this survey does not encompass aid from UN agencies, bilateral donations, or national NGOs; thus offering a partial perspective on aid delivery challenges in Gaza.

In Gaza, where destruction and despair have become a daily reality for over four months, humanitarian aid is a lifeline for 2.3 million people. The scale of humanitarian needs in Gaza has surged to unprecedented levels, surpassing anything previously witnessed and presenting formidable challenges to those who strive to provide assistance on the ground.

Since January 26, a mere third of the international organizations operating in Gaza have managed to bring humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza. Logistical complexities, coupled with bureaucratic hurdles, have hindered many organizations from reaching those in desperate need. Trucks filled with essential supplies wait and wait at border crossings, just a stone’s throw away from people who are starving and living in desperation.

Learn about Anera’s work in Gaza >>>

Israeli inspection mechanisms further exacerbate delays. Vital items are often deemed “dual-use” materials and consequently barred from passage. This arbitrary classification diverges from international standards and impedes the delivery of critical aid such as water pipes and hygiene materials.

Moreover, the perilous journey through the “no man’s land” between crossing points poses significant security risks for humanitarian personnel and their convoys. The intensity of hostilities and Israeli-imposed movement restrictions have rendered vast swathes of Gaza inaccessible, with aid distribution predominantly limited to areas around Rafah.

A United Nations team attempting to deliver fuel to Nasser hospital through destroyed roads. Photo by UNOCHA/Themba Linden, 16 February 2024. Downloaded from OCHA’s Flash Update #121.

Even within accessible regions, aid delivery remains hampered by physical obstacles such as Israeli checkpoints and degraded road networks. The inability to extend aid efforts beyond Rafah underscores the vulnerability of populations in northern Gaza, where severe food shortages persist amid repeated denials of entry for aid convoys. (Learn about Anera’s support of a community kitchen in Jabalia, in northern Gaza.)

Tragically, humanitarian facilities have not been spared from the devastation, with airstrikes destroying non-governmental organizations’ offices despite prior coordination with Israeli military authorities. Attacks on local partners’ facilities have further compromised relief operations, eroding trust in deconfliction mechanisms designed to safeguard aid infrastructure.

Compounding these challenges are the impossible working conditions faced by humanitarian staff, who themselves grapple with displacement, exhaustion, and trauma amidst relentless bombardments. The lack of rotation due to Israeli restrictions strains staff mental and physical well-being, impeding their ability to sustain life-saving operations.

Communication blackouts add another layer of complexity, hindering coordination efforts and real-time updates on the security situation, particularly outside of Rafah.

As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza deepens, urgent action is imperative to ensure unimpeded access for aid organizations and the protection of civilian lives. International pressure must be leveraged to lift restrictions, facilitate aid delivery, and safeguard humanitarian personnel. Only through collective action can we prevent further suffering and alleviate the plight of the people of Gaza.

Read AIDA’s full report from its survey of 24 international non-governmental organizations working in Gaza >>>

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