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Egypt opens Rafah border crossing for Gaza aid

GAZA: As the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas continues, for the first time since 2007 the World Food Programme (WFP) has managed to cross from Egypt into the Gaza Strip with a convoy carrying enough food to feed 150,000 people for five days.

The 18 trucks carried an initial consignment of 15,600 food parcels of canned meat and beans, tea and dates from Alexandria across the Sinai Peninsula in seven hours.

Gaza crossing WFPA second convoy with 9,400 parcels is expected to enter Gaza via the Rafah border point (picture courtesy of WFP/Eyad al Baba) in the next few days with help from the Egyptian Red Crescent.

"It is extremely important that we have access to the Gaza Strip from different routes including the Rafah crossing to ensure a constant flow of humanitarian supplies to meet the growing needs of the people affected by the recent violence. We are grateful to the government of Egypt for opening the Rafah crossing and allowing WFP to procure food in Egypt," said Mohamed Diab, the WFP regional director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe.

Since the start of the conflict at the beginning of July, WFP has provided daily emergency food rations for 350,000 displaced people in Gaza. "The opening of the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid provides a major opportunity to scale up aid delivery to Gaza and needs to be sustained," added WFP country director Pablo Recalde.

The donation-supported WFP says it needs US$70 million in the next three months to do so.

In a related move, UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, says Gaza has received nearly 3.5 tonnes of essential medicines and vaccines to restock hospitals and health facilities that have been damaged in the conflict. The delivery is part of a record 1,000 tonnes shipped in August in response to various crises in Africa and the Middle East.

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