Another major donor says it will resume funding to the UN agency to help the Palestinians as hunger grows in Gaza

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Another major donor to the U.N. aid agency for the Palestinians said Saturday it will resume funding, weeks after more than a dozen countries withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in support in response to Israeli allegations against the organization.

The coup in Sweden came as A ship carrying tons of humanitarian aid It was preparing to leave Cyprus for Gaza after international donors opened a sea corridor to supply the blockaded region, which then faces widespread famine. Five months of war.

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides told reporters late Saturday that the ship would depart “in the next 24 hours.” José Andres, founder of World Central Kitchen, told the Associated Press that all necessary permits had been obtained, including from Israel, and that the circumstances of the departure delay were primarily weather-related.

The Swedish funding decision follows similar decisions before European Union And Canada as A United Nations agency known as UNRWA He warns that it could collapse and leave Gaza's already desperate population, numbering more than two million people, with even less medical and other assistance.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is devastating and the needs are acute,” Swedish Development Minister Johan Forssell said, adding that UNRWA had agreed to increased transparency and stricter controls. Sweden will give UNRWA half of the $38 million in funding promised this year, with more to come.

Israel accused 12 of the thousands of UNRWA employees of involvement in acts of violence Participation in the Hamas attacks on October 7 In Israel, which resulted in the killing of 1,200 people and the holding of about 250 others hostage. Countries including the United States quickly Suspended financing UNRWA has approximately $450 million, nearly half its budget for this year. The United Nations has launched investigations, and UNRWA has agreed to conduct external audits to restore donor support.

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On the On the eve of RamadanHungry Gazans scramble for food supply parcels dropped by US and Jordanian military planes – A Delivery method Which humanitarian groups describe as woefully inadequate compared to ground delivery. But the daily number of aid trucks entering Gaza since the war has been much less than the 500 that entered before October 7 due to… Israeli restrictions and security issues.

People streamed through the devastated neighborhoods of Gaza City as aid descended by parachute. “I have orphans and I want to feed them!” One woman cried.

Another citizen, Moamen Mahra, said, “The aid issue is brutal and no one accepts it,” claiming that most of the aid dropped by air falls into the sea. “We want better methods.”

The US Army said that its planes airdropped more than 41,000 “equivalent to a meal” and 23,000 bottles of water on… North GazaIt is the hardest part of the pocket to access.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said that two other people were injured, including a two-month-old infant He died as a result of malnutritionWhich brings the total number of deaths due to hunger in the war to 25. Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said that the number includes only people who were transferred to hospitals.

Overall, the ministry said at least 30,878 Palestinians have been killed since the war began. It does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its statistics, but says that women and children constitute two-thirds of the dead. The ministry is part of the Hamas-run government, and its numbers from previous wars largely match those of the United Nations and independent experts.

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The opening of the sea delivery corridor, coupled with airdrops, showed growing frustration With the humanitarian crisis in Gaza And a new willingness to work around Israeli restrictions. The sea corridor is supported by the European Union, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other concerned countries. The European Commission said that UN agencies and the Red Cross would also play a role.

President Joe Biden said Saturday that he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping it” in the way he is handling its war against Hamas in Gaza. Speaking to MSNBC's Jonathan Capehart, the US president expressed support for Israel's right to go after Hamas after the October 7 attack, but said of Netanyahu that he “must pay more attention to the innocent lives that are lost as a result of the actions taken.”

The ship, belonging to the Spanish aid group Open Arms, is expected to make a test flight to test the passage as early as this weekend. The ship was waiting in the Cypriot port of Larnaca. Israel said it welcomed the sea corridor but warned that it would require security checks.

Open Arms founder Oscar Camps said the ship towing a barge loaded with 200 tons of rice and flour would take two to three days to reach an undisclosed location where World Central Kitchen was building a dock to receive it.

Biden separately announced a plan to build a temporary dock in Gaza to help deliver aid, highlighting how the United States must rally around Israel, its main ally in the Middle East and the largest recipient of US military aid. Israel accuses Hamas of seizing some aid shipments.

US officials said it could take weeks before the pier is ready for operation. Avril Benoit, executive director of the US branch of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, criticized the US plan in a statement, calling it a “blatant distraction from the real problem: Israel's indiscriminate and disproportionate military campaign and punitive blockade.”

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Sigrid Kaag, the UN humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator in Gaza, said air and sea aid cannot make up for the lack of land supply routes.

Meanwhile, efforts to reach a ceasefire before Ramadan appeared to be stalling. Hamas said on Thursday that its delegation would leave Cairo until next week.

International mediators had hoped to alleviate some of the immediate crisis through a six-week ceasefire, which would have resulted in Hamas releasing some of the Israeli hostages it holds, Israel releasing some Palestinian prisoners and allowing aid groups access to a large influx of refugees. Aid to Gaza.

Palestinian militants are believed to be holding around 100 hostages and the remains of 30 others captured during the October 7 attack. Dozens of hostages were released in a week-long truce in November.

In Lebanon, official media said that five people were killed and at least nine wounded in an Israeli air strike on a house in the town of Khirbet Selm in the south of the country.

The Lebanese-Israeli border region has witnessed almost daily clashes between Lebanese Hezbollah and Israeli forces during the past five months.

Israeli strikes killed about 300 people there, most of them Hezbollah fighters and allied groups, but also including about 40 civilians. On the Israeli side, at least nine soldiers and 10 civilians were killed.


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