Friday, April 17, 2009
Electronic Intifada (reporting from El Arish, Egypt), April 16, 2009 - Hundreds of thousands of tons of aid intended for the Gaza Strip is piling up in cities across Egypt's North Sinai region, despite recent calls from the United Nations to ease aid flow restrictions to the embattled territory in the wake of Israel's 22-day assault.
Food, medicine, blankets, infant food and other supplies for Gaza's 1.5 million people, coming from governments and non-governmental agencies around the world, are being stored in warehouses, parking lots, stadiums and on airport runways across Egypt's North Sinai governorate.
Egypt shares a 14-kilometer border with Gaza that has been closed more or less permanently since the Islamist movement Hamas took control of the territory in June 2007.
Flour, pasta, sugar, coffee, chocolate, tomato sauce, lentils, date bars, juice, chickpeas, blankets, hospital beds, catheter tubes and other humanitarian-based items are all sitting in at least eight storage points in and around al-Arish, a city in North Sinai approximately 50 kilometers from Gaza's border.
Three months after the end of the war, much of the aid has either rotted or been irreparably damaged as a result of both rain and sunshine, and Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah crossing.
"To be honest, most of this aid will never make it to Gaza," a local government official told IPS on condition of anonymity. "A lot of the food here will have to be thrown away."....