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USAID chief presses for more aid to reach those in Gaza as she announces $53M in new assistance

<i>Astrig Agopian/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>USAID chief Samantha Powers gives a press conference after visiting the humanitarian hub welcoming refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 in Kornidzor
Astrig Agopian/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
USAID chief Samantha Powers gives a press conference after visiting the humanitarian hub welcoming refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 in Kornidzor

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

(CNN) — The top US humanitarian aid official on Tuesday called for additional assistance to be able to reach those inside of Gaza as she announced that the United States will provide $53 million in additional humanitarian aid to the war-torn strip and the West Bank.

Much of this aid will support food assistance, US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power said in an announcement Tuesday, as more than two million people in Gaza are at “imminent risk” of famine.

“That assistance has to reach people in need,” Power said in a taped message outside a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse in Amman, Jordan.

“Right now, the bureaucratic bottlenecks and inspection delays have to get resolved. The number of access points into Gaza has to grow significantly,” she said.

“The aid workers who on the ground in Gaza are risking their lives to get food to people in desperate, desperate need, those aid workers have to be protected. They have to know they can do their jobs without being shot at and killed,” Power said.

Power is slated to travel from Jordan to Israel and the West Bank as part of the effort to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that is veering into catastrophe.

US officials have repeatedly said the amount of aid entering Gaza is not nearly enough. Last week, only 85 trucks a day were able to enter through the Rafah crossing, Power said, down from 500 before the conflict began.

As CNN has reported, aid convoys have come under Israeli fire while trying to deliver critical assistance into Gaza. UN officials have accused Israel of targeting officers from the Hamas-run police force that travels with the UN aid convoys in an effort to protect them from looting. Because of the Israeli attacks on the officers, officials said the officers have stopped protecting the convoys.

“With the departure of police escorts, it has been virtually impossible for the UN or anyone else – Jordan, the UAE, any other implementer – to safely move assistance in Gaza because of criminal gangs,” US envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues David Satterfield said earlier this month.

“We are working with the Israeli government, with Israeli military, to see what solutions can be found here because everyone wants to see the assistance continue. No one wants to empower Hamas, but there’s a balance here,” he said.

“There is a way ahead, which we need to find, which allows for secure and safe delivery of assistance. We can get it into Gaza. We can move hundreds of truckloads of assistance a day over the border to warehouses. What we cannot do right now is see that assistance effectively moved to the people of Gaza in a secure and safe manner,” he said.

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