Aid truck numbers arriving in Gaza ‘wholly inadequate’, says UK minister

Britain has said the number of aid trucks being allowed into Gaza is “wholly inadequate”, amid warnings of a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

International development minister Andrew Mitchell said he is talking to the United Nations nearly every day about its operations and how it can “beef up” the number of trucks entering from Egypt through the Rafah crossing.

UN agency for Palestinian refugees spokeswoman Tamara Alrifai told the BBC the 54 trucks that entered Gaza over the last several days was “nowhere near enough in quantity and in content”.

Gaza’s 2.2 million people have been running out of food, water, medicine and fuel since Israel sealed off the territory following Hamas’s deadly attacks on October 7.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Labour MP Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) warned that the aid reaching Gaza is “nowhere near enough to avert a humanitarian catastrophe” as she pressed for fuel to be allowed in.

Mr Mitchell replied: “The number of trucks that are going through every day is far too small and we will continue to press all the relevant authorities to allow humanitarian support and aid of the type she has described through the Rafah crossing to help those whose circumstances are precisely as she described.”

Conservative MP Sara Britcliffe (Hyndburn) said: “We know the UN has stated it needs at least 100 trucks a day to take the aid to those who desperately need it.”

Mr Mitchell responded: “The key thing is to increase the number of lorries that are getting through Rafah – the current number is wholly inadequate – and I talk to (UN emergency relief co-ordinator) Martin Griffiths virtually every day about the operations the UN are conducting to try and beef up that number.”

Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham Deptford) said earlier: “Children in Gaza have begun writing their names on their hands so they can be identified and buried with their families when they are killed.

“What action is the Government taking to prevent more children being harmed in Israel’s military action and to ensure a rapid end to this conflict?”

Mr Mitchell replied: “We’re doing everything we can to protect children and British aid is already making a difference by supporting the international relief effort, which is going in through Rafah.”

Elsewhere at Foreign Office questions on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said no British aid money goes directly to the Palestinian Authority.

Conservative MP Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton) said: “It’s been reported that the Palestinian Authority is to pay up to three million dollars a month in so-called martyr salaries to the families of dead and captured Hamas terrorists.

“Will (the Foreign Secretary) join me in condemning these payments to rapists, torturers, murderers, some of whom have killed Brits? And will he also use his good offices to ensure that no British aid money has gone towards this filthy practice?”

Mr Cleverly said: “I can reassure him that we always ensure that UK aid money is protected from misappropriation, and I can confirm to him and the House that no British aid money goes directly to the Palestinian Authority.

“We have raised this very issue with the Palestinian Authority and highlighted our belief that this is not conducive to good relations and a future two-state solution.”

The Palestinian Authority’s payment of stipends to thousands of families that have had relatives killed, wounded or imprisoned in the Israel-Palestinian conflict has been a source of contention.

Israel has said the payments incentivise terrorism, while the Palestinians said they provide crucial support to needy families.