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Canada to start airdropping aid into Gaza within days: source | CBC News

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The Canadian government will begin airdropping aid into Gaza within the next week, a government source tells CBC News.

Months of violence have followed the events of Oct. 7, when Hamas militants attacked Israel, killed approximately 1,200 people and took roughly 250 others hostage, according to Israeli accounts. Since then, Israeli strikes have killed approximately 29,000 people, according to Gaza’s Hamas-led health authority.

Humanitarian groups are calling for more aid to be allowed into Gaza to help with an intense and worsening crisis there. The World Food Programme recently suspended aid shipments into northern Gaza, citing “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order” and warning again about the risk of starvation in the region.

Some of Canada’s allies have already started such airdrop operations.

Aid funded by the United Kingdom was recently dropped to a hospital in northern Gaza. The Netherlands and France also have been involved in airdrop operations.

Jordan has dropped aid to a field hospital it runs in Gaza several times since the beginning of the conflict. Israel approved and co-ordinated with a Jordanian drop in November, according to Reuters.

Many of the previous airdrops have been carried out by the Jordanian air force. The source said Canada has considered different options for the airdrop. But as of Wednesday night, the option of using Canadian Armed Forces aircraft had been ruled out, the source said.

A number of people hold out pots for food.
Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. International aid agencies say Gaza is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas. (Fatima Shbair/AP)

A UN report said in December that Gaza’s entire population is experiencing a food crisis, with one in four facing starvation.

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen told CBC Radio’s The House last week that Canada was considering airdropping aid.

“We have to do everything we can to avert mass starvation in northern Gaza and beyond,” he told host Catherine Cullen.

The House9:43Canada in talks to send food, medicine to Gaza

Aid groups in Gaza are warning of an “absolutely horrific” situation as people run out of food and medicine. Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen was at the Egyptian border earlier this week discussing what Canada can do to help. He joins Catherine Cullen to talk about the options on the table.

Hussen recently travelled to Jordan and the Egyptian border with Gaza. He described what he saw near Gaza as a “really dire situation.”

“People are in a very desperate situation and they’re doing desperate things to survive,” he said.

In January, the federal government suspended funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a key aid agency in Gaza, in response to Israeli claims that members of the organization were involved in the Oct. 7 attack.

Ottawa announced at the time that it was sending an additional $40 million in aid to other humanitarian groups in the region.

CBC News reported earlier this month that Canada had not seen evidence from Israel supporting its claims about UNRWA at the time it made its decision. The United Nations says it is investigating the allegations.

Hussen said Wednesday that the government will wait until the UN investigation is complete before deciding to resume aid to UNRWA. Asked if he’s confident the investigation will be completed before April, when Canada’s next payment to UNRWA was supposed to be delivered, Hussen said he didn’t want to “prejudge” the outcome.

“I have confidence in the UN body that’s looking into this, and we’ll see what they come back with, but we have always insisted that we should have a transparent, comprehensive investigation before we act,” he said.

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