Delivering aid to Gaza: "We are now in the most difficult phase."

Second Shipment for Gaza

With the humanitarian situation in Rafah worsening by the day, getting aid into Gaza remains an immense logistical challenge. The leading Swiss organisation for children’s rights, Terre des hommes Lausanne, has sent its second aid convoy to Rafah. Its logistics coordinator in Egypt reports on the difficulties. 

"We are now in the most difficult phase since the outbreak of the war. Some of the trucks are more than a month late. This has catastrophic consequences for the children and their families in Gaza," says Pantelis Kouvaris, Emergency Logistics Coordinator in Egypt. 

More than 1.2 million internally displaced people from all over the Gaza Strip are currently stranded in Rafah, deeply traumatised and exhausted, without access to food and basic hygiene products. The Gaza Strip is ravaged by malnutrition and at the brink of famine. At least ten children have already died from dehydration and malnutrition, according to the United Nations

The office of Terre des hommes Lausanne (Tdh) in Egypt, where Pantelis Kouvaris works, is trying to organise reliable supplies through the open border crossings despite numerous difficulties. The logistics of the aid deliveries continue to pose a major challenge: 

"We have to follow events carefully on a daily basis and work closely with our colleagues in Gaza to ensure that the aid we send is actually what is needed on the other side," explains Pantelis Kouvaris. 

Getting aid trucks to Rafah is a lengthy process. There is currently a backlog of 1,000 trucks at El Arish, the first checkpoint before entering Gaza from Egypt. The deliveries are registered and scanned by the Israeli authorities, with the contents being subject to strict restrictive criteria. If there is no fighting around the convoys, they reach the camps in Rafah within one to two weeks. However, if the security situation is more difficult, it can take up to a month for the vital supplies to arrive. 

Second shipment from Terre des hommes 

Tdh's second aid shipment aims to provide around 2500 families with hygiene products that are currently difficult to obtain in Gaza, such as shampoo, toothbrushes, soap and menstrual hygiene products. Tdh is also providing toys and colouring books for children taking part in psychosocial activities in the Rafah shelters. Four trucks have already entered the Gaza Strip and Tdh has so far distributed around a thousand hygiene kits in two different shelters for internally displaced people. 

"It is very limited aid that can be provided in a complex situation in an extremely insecure environment. Nevertheless, it is extremely important. The market in Rafah has collapsed and people are dependent on aid in order to survive," says Pantelis Kouvaris.

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