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World Central Kitchen resumes operations in Gaza


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The World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid organisation resumed operations in Gaza on Monday a month after Israeli drones killed seven of its staff.

The US-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) announced work would begin with a “Palestinian team delivering food to address widespread hunger”. Aid agencies have repeatedly said the amount of aid reaching Gaza is far from enough to sustain 2.3 million Palestinians.

Palestinian employees and volunteers account for almost all of the Gaza team.

WCK said that before it suspended operations, it had distributed more than 43 million meals in Gaza and accounted for 62 per cent of all international aid. Chief executive officer Erin Gore stated: “We will continue to get as much food into Gaza, including northern Gaza, as possible – by land, air or sea.”

WCK says it has 276 lorries carrying ingredients for eight million meals waiting to enter Gaza through the Egyptian crossing into Rafah and will send aid trucks from Jordan. The aid group will continue to explore the possibility of aid deliveries by the maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza, which was pioneered in March by WCK, Spain’s NGO Open Arms ships, and the United Arab Emirates, which donated food. WCK said it is opening a third high-production kitchen to add to 68 kitchens, including two “high-production” facilities, already operating in Gaza.

The group had been operational in Gaza since October, using land, air and more recently the sea to get aid into the enclave to supply its network of community kitchens. Workers were delivering a second shipment of aid from the Cyprus route when their three-vehicle convoy was hit by Israeli strikes.

Meanwhile, Jennifer – a ship that made the initial voyage from Cyprus to Gaza with WCK and Open Arms – unloaded 400 tonnes of aid at the Israeli port of Ashdod on Sunday. It was to be loaded on to lorries bound for Gaza. The joint mission was sponsored by the United Arab Emirates and American Near East Refugee Aid, which has served 24 million meals in Gaza since mid-October.

In support of US efforts to boost aid deliveries, Britain has sent support ship RFA Cardigan Bay from Cyprus to house hundreds of US sailors and soldiers constructing a floating pier off Gaza’s coast. The British government is also studying a proposal for British servicemen to drive aid lorries along a floating causeway from the pier to the shore.

Speaking to a meeting in Saudi Arabia of the World Economic Forum, US secretary of state Antony Blinken said: “We still need to get more aid in and around Gaza. We need to improve [Israeli] deconfliction [arrangements] with the humanitarian assistance workers.”

He said effective clearing of aid deliveries with the Israeli military promotes “greater efficiency and greater safety”.

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