U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo this week to try and broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. But as the conflict in Gaza intensifies and the body count climbs, the U.S. is first trying to resolve a humanitarian crisis.
The State Department announced Monday it earmarked $47 million in Gaza aid. This includes a $15 million contribution to the United Nation's refugee agency, as well as $13.5 million in existing USAID funds redirected to the conflict zone.
That humanitarian aid will primarily go toward shelter, food and medicine for Palestinians affected by the ongoing Israel-Hamas battles in Gaza. U.N. refugee shelters in the region report almost 85,000 Palestinians have sought help after been displaced during this latest conflict.
The fighting has grown bloodier on both sides, as well; Israeli Defense Forces say 25 soldiers and two civilians have been killed by Hamas, while the U.N. estimates more than 570 Palestinians have been killed so far, most of them civilians. (Via NBC)
Humanitarian aid is coming in from international organizations, along with countries including Ireland, the United Arab Emirates ...
And Afghanistan, which sent $500,000 in aid to Gaza — despite its own reliance on $6.7 billion in foreign aid. (Via Vice)
Though not all of the aid is getting through to the region. An Egyptian convoy of activists with supplies for Gaza residents was forced to turn back after Egyptian border officials refused to allow them past a Sinai checkpoint. (Via Al-Ahram)
The international community is currently pushing for a cease-fire and humanitarian access to conflict-stricken areas. A brief truce orchestrated by the Red Cross allowed some relief into a war-torn Gaza neighborhood Sunday — but the cease-fire crumbled after two hours. (Via CNN)
And without a stable cease-fire, it will be difficult to put that aid to good use. After an Israel-Palestine conflict ended in 2009, IRIN reported relief agencies had trouble accessing damaged areas for weeks after a truce was signed.