Britain, Ireland call for faster flow of aid into Gaza

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British and Irish ministers called for accelerated flows of aid into the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip during separate visits to the Egyptian capital Cairo on Wednesday.

Limited deliveries of humanitarian relief have been crossing from Egypt into Gaza since October 21, though aid workers say the amount brought into the enclave is a fraction of what is needed.

“We need to speed that up. We need to try and make sure that we’re able to have much better flow of vital provisions through there so that it could get to the people very much in need,” said Andrew Mitchell, Britain’s minister of state for development and Africa, adding that fuel is a current priority.

Israel had refused the delivery of fuel to Gaza, saying it could be used by the enclave’s ruling Hamas group, but allowed an initial delivery for UN aid distribution trucks on Wednesday.

No fuel has been allowed in for hospitals or water provision, which have been badly affected by fuel shortages.

“Without question we need a dramatic increase in aid at scale to meet the dire humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza, where a human catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes,” Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin told reporters.

The main challenge, Mitchell said, was the creation of “safe areas” without grouping vulnerable people together and putting them at risk.

Britain has offered 51 tonnes worth of supplies for Gaza, in addition to other heavy lifting equipment, Mitchell said.

It has urged humanitarian pauses in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, but has not called for a full ceasefire, saying Israel has a right to protect itself.

Ireland has taken a stronger stance, with Martin calling foran immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

He also called for all hostages held by Hamas to be released, adding that the government was working on the case of8-year-old Irish citizen Emily Hand.

“Hostages should be prioritised and we are very focused on the case of Emily Hand,” said Martin.