1. MAIN ISSUES
2. PRIORITIES FOR IMPROVING DELIVERY OF HUMANITARIAN RELIEF TO GAZA
3. LOGISTICS COORDINATION
4. INTERACTION WITH COGAT
PRIORITIES FOR IMPROVING DELIVERY OF HUMANITARIAN RELIEF TO GAZA
- In the past week the following humanitarian relief items have been rejected for transport to Gaza by the Israeli Authorities: Jam and biscuits (USAID); tomato paste (World Vision). The refusal to allow these items resulted in 498 boxes of USAID cargo and 2488 boxes of World Vision cargo stopped from delivery to Gaza because jam, biscuits and tomato paste were included in individual food parcels. Although these shipments were cleared for entry on 11 March, the Israeli Authorities stated that permission was granted on an exceptional basis. COGAT stated that in future, food parcels containing tomato paste, jam and biscuits will be rejected.
- This approach represents a departure from previous Israeli Government policy to allow food parcels into Gaza without analysis of the constituent items. Israeli Authorities also informed the humanitarian community that tea, sweets and date bars would not be granted clearance in humanitarian relief shipments for Gaza.
The Logistics Cluster suggests the following measures are taken in order to increase capacity for entry of humanitarian relief to Gaza:
- The Humanitarian Coordinator has compiled an updated list of sector priorities to ensure the delivery of humanitarian relief reflects the needs of the conflict-affected population in Gaza. The list has been shared with the Israeli Authorities.
- The Humanitarian Community requests that the Israeli Authorities permit the delivery of food assistance to Gaza without interference. Food is a core humanitarian relief item. A refusal of individual items in food parcels is inconsistent with the principle of non-interference as outlined in the Framework for the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza and the obligation to ensure the free passage of consignments of foodstuffs (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 59).
- A request has been made to COGAT to clearly define the policy-level process governing approval of relief items destined for Gaza (including so-called ‘dual prpose’ items). The objective is to increase predictability for clearance of cargo and ensure transparency of process.
- Use of sea containers for the purpose of transportation of humanitarian cargo and permission for the exit/return of empty containers. This includes those still under lease by humanitarian organisations to shipping companies.
- Double-stacking of pallets on trucks passing through Kerem Shalom in order to save time and increase cargo capacity.
- Installation of better lighting at the Kerem Shalom crossing (Gaza side) to allow operations to continue after dark, and thus increase the timeframe for cargo pickup.
The UN Humanitarian Agencies in Jordan, Gaza Emergency Coordination Cell (UNJGECC): A meeting was held on 11 March. Minutes are available here
- El Arish Logistics Cluster: During an ad hoc Cluster meeting on 10 March the Logistics Cluster shared information on procedures for requesting the Palestinian Authority donation number, which is a prerequisite for obtaining customs clearance for cargo destined for Gaza through Egypt. This information is available here
- The ‘Viva Palestina’ Convoy arrived in El Arish on Saturday 07 March. The original convoy from Britain included 106 vehicles and was joined in Libya by a further 118 vehicles. Egyptian Authorities agreed to allow the medical related aid and the small vehicles of the convoy to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing. On Sunday 08 Mar, 12 Libyan trucks carrying 100 MT of medicine entered the Rafah border crossing and cargo was loaded onto Palestinian trucks.
- On Monday 09 March, 101 small British vehicles carrying 10 MT of clothes, 5 MT of shoes, 15 MT medical equipments, 10 MT of electrical equipment, 5 MT of tents, 10 MT of blankets entered Gaza via the Rafah crossing*. While the vehicles that were permitted entry into Gaza included ambulances, other vehicles such as a fire engine and a boat and several large trucks were not permitted entry On Monday 09 March an additional 4 Libyan trucks carrying 40 MT of medicine entered the Rafah border crossing and cargo was loaded onto Palestinian trucks. The remaining 102 Libyan trucks, as well as two large vehicles from the original British convoy, which are all carrying non-medical aid have been advised by the Egyptian authorities to use the El Aouga crossing. [*Source for cargo information is the Egyptian Customs Authority.]
INTERACTION WITH COGAT
- The Logistics Cluster continued to request clearance from COGAT for transportation of UNICEF stationery items, Early Childhood Development Kits and children’s toys; UK MAP medical equipment; FAO veterinary supplies; 704 packets of washing powder for World Vision.
- The washing powder is part of hygiene kit distribution by World Vision in Gaza which was refused clearance due to the absence of an ‘environmental certificate’. On 26 February an identical cargo for World Vision was delivered to Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing. COGAT is so far unable to provide any information on what the ‘environmental certificate’ is or how it should be obtained.
- Since mid January 2009, the Logistics Cluster successfully enlisted full cooperation from six UN agencies (UNTSO, UNIFIL, UNMAAC, UNRWA, WFP and UNHCR) in an attempt to temporarily import 9 UNHCR trucks into Israel to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian cargo from West Bank to Jerusalem. Despite speedy and positive collaboration received from the 6 UN Agencies, the attempt to import these trucks did not materialize due to failure by the Israeli authorities to grant the necessary permission.
- On 16 February, COGAT requested to attend the Gaza Logistics Cluster meeting. After discussion and approval by the Logistics Cluster members on 03 March, the Logistics Cluster extended an invitation to COGAT to attend the next meeting on 16 February. COGAT has declined the invitation.