Why is the U.S. still providing aid to Gaza even though it is inefficient?

Jeremy Konyndyk: The End of the Gaza War and Why the U.S. is Trying to Get Aid By Airdrops

Access to the Gaza Strip has been severely limited since the start of the war on Oct. 7. According to Israeli officials, that’s when Hamas kidnapped and killed more than 120 people in Israel. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli response, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

According to U.S. Central Command, U.S. C-130s dropped over 36,800 U.S. and Jordanian meal equivalents in northern Gaza. Officials from the US have said that they’re considering all options, including possibly getting aid in by sea, and pushing Israel to allow more trucks into Gaza.

The aid can be taken in by land through several factors, including the ability of drivers in Gaza to receive trucks and drive the supplies, as well as clearance from the Israeli military for safe passage.

Jeremy Konyndyk: The most inefficient way to deliver aid is through airdrops, as the first thing to understand. They’re only used when there is no other way to get aid in.

Jeremy Konyndyk is president of Refugees International and was the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance under President Barack Obama.

He spoke to All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro about why airdropping aid is a last resort and why he views it as a “grim irony” for the U.S. to be doing so now.

The cost of airdropping aid is inefficient — so why is the U.S. doing it in Gaza anyway? Source: Gaza and the United States

So we would use them if a population was completely physically inaccessible, if they had been cut off by an earthquake or a hurricane, or if there was fighting or if they were besieged.

So, for example, when Iraqi Yazidis were fleeing the genocidal militia, the ISIL [Islamic State] militia that had pushed them out of their town, they fled up Sinjar mountain. In the summer of 2014, we organized an aerial assault on Sinjar by the U.S. military in order to sustain them. It is extremely rare outside of those types of situations. There is not a place where we’ve used them that is also being served by overland access.

Konyndyk: First is the cost. It is about and obviously there are a lot of situations but it is ballpark eight to ten times more expensive to deliver by air than overland.

And the volumes are not as large. So to put this in perspective, Samantha Power, the administrator of USAID, was in the Middle East last week, and she gave remarks in the West Bank where she was bemoaning the fact that only about 96 trucks per day, on average, had been getting into Gaza.

Well, the three planeloads that the U.S. dropped last week are equivalent to ballpark four to six truckloads. It’s not much more aid than what’s currently getting in, so it’s not very significant.

It is equivalent to four to six truckloads and it is eight to 10 times more expensive. And the number that President Biden himself has described as wholly insufficient is something like 96 trucks per day.

Source: Airdropping aid is inefficient — so why is the U.S. doing it in Gaza anyway?

The U.S. should not provide security assistance to a country that blocks humanitarian aid from entering a population: a grim irony

You can see that in the president’s rhetoric, you can see that in what the vice president said over the weekend and you can also see that in Administrator Power’s recent statements.

And I think what is quite striking about that is under the International Court of Justice order, Israel faces a requirement to do all they can to facilitate humanitarian aid. The United States cannot provide security assistance to a country that blocks the provision of humanitarian assistance. The plain language of what the president, vice president and administrator said in the past few days is suggestive that Israel is doing that.

The US is being criticized for taking performative steps when the Biden administration is behind the war in Gaza. What are you thinking about that assessment?

Konyndyk thinks there is a very grim irony in the fact that the U.S. is supplying both bombs and food to the people of Gaza.

I think it’s past time to put real pressure on Israel over these issues, because most of the humanitarian community are now saying it’s time. It is in our view that we should not provide bombs to the government that is blocking aid from entering a population.

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