U.N. Engages in Talks to Retrieve Stolen Aid From Hamas

(HorizonPost.com) – Martin Griffiths, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief last week described the situation in Northern Gaza as one of the worst humanitarian crises in years.

In an interview with PBS Newshour’s Nick Schifrin, Griffiths said he agreed with World Food Program executive director Cindy McCain’s assessment that Northern Gaza had become a “full-blown famine.”

However, he told Schifrin that he didn’t need to wait for the UN to independently declare a famine in Northern Gaza to know that people were dying of starvation and malnutrition.

The US military began receiving humanitarian aid last week through the floating pier that has been anchored to the beach in Northern Gaza. According to the Pentagon, the goal is to offload 500 tons of aid each day.

On Saturday, more than 300 pallets of aid were delivered via the pier, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.

When asked if the floating pier would make a difference to the humanitarian crisis, Griffiths said it would be “very helpful,” but added that land access routes would be “more efficient.” He said the UN and World Food Program were prepared to help distribute the aid that arrived at the pier.

When asked about the risks that the pier would come under fire by Hamas militants, Griffiths said the risks were “serious” but acceptable. He explained that the risks should not prevent the aid from getting to “the right people.”

Schifrin noted that Hamas had “diverted or stolen the aid” and asked how the UN prevented that from happening.

Griffiths said when Hamas steals humanitarian aid, UN officials negotiate with the terror group “to get that aid back.” He said in most cases, the negotiations have “succeeded” and aid workers had been able to safely deliver the supplies.

Griffiths noted that 54 trucks passed through the recently opened Erez northern crossing the day before but added that getting aid into Southern Gaza had become “incredibly difficult” now that both key border crossings are closed.

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