The US is dropping aid into Gaza. Here’s why they will do little to ease a humanitarian crisis

The US is dropping aid into Gaza. Here’s why they will do little to ease a humanitarian crisis - International News - News

Airdrops as a Last Resort: The Contentious Use of Humanitarian Air Drops in Gaza’s Ongoing Crisis

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to unfold, with the United States and several other countries turning to airdrops as a means of delivering essential supplies. The use of aerial deliveries has become increasingly common in conflict zones where ground transportation is often hindered or impossible. However, the efficacy and safety of this method have been under scrutiny due to its high cost and potential risks.

With the number of aid deliveries on land falling drastically short of what is required to prevent famine in Gaza, airdrops aim to offer much-needed relief to those affected. Yet, the UN and aid agencies have voiced concerns over their effectiveness, as seen in a tragic incident on Friday when faulty parachutes caused aid pallets to plummet from the sky at dangerous speeds, resulting in five civilian casualties.

The history of airdrops dates back to August 1973 when the UN conducted its first operation to deliver food to conflict zones globally. Humanitarian organizations and governments have employed this method ever since, wrapping packages of food and medicines with multiple layers of protection and delivering them via parachute from altitudes ranging between 300 to 5,600 meters.

The United States has previously utilized airdrops during crises, such as in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2014. These operations allowed for bypassing rigorous land checkpoint examinations, making airdrops an expeditious alternative to delivering supplies.

However, the benefits of this method are outweighed by its drawbacks. Aid agencies argue that airdrops are more expensive, costing up to seven times as much as land deliveries, and have limited delivery capacity. For instance, one truck can transport nearly ten times the amount one aircraft can carry, roughly 20 to 30 metric tonnes.

Critics argue that countries lack comprehensive plans for managing aid once it reaches the ground, often leading to chaos and confusion among recipient communities. The UN Special Rapporteur for Food, Michael Fakrhi, highlighted these issues on Friday, stating that airdrops usually result in disorderly situations and cannot be blamed for the ensuing turmoil.

Palestinians have raised concerns about the types of aid being delivered, with some expressing a need for microwaves, electricity, and practical supplies like flour, rice, oil, salt, and beans. Mahmoud Shalabi, senior program manager of NGO Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), noted that most packages contained insufficient food resources for only a few meals.

A Palestinian journalist, Abdel Qader Al Sabbah, echoed these concerns and urged the need for practical supplies instead of the currently sent meals. Palestinians have long experienced challenges in getting aid via land due to Israel’s restrictions on access, leading countries to resort to aerial deliveries.

Aid agencies argue that the current situation in Gaza is not a logistical issue but rather a political one and urge the US to focus on pressuring Israel to allow more aid into the region via established roads and entry points.

In summary, while airdrops serve as a valuable tool for bypassing obstacles in delivering humanitarian aid, their high cost and potential risks have led to skepticism from aid agencies and recipients. The ongoing crisis in Gaza calls for a more sustainable and effective approach to ensure that those in need receive the necessary assistance without putting their lives at risk.

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