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Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation: The Greatest Risk of Famine in Gaza Has Not yet Arrived

By JT - Jun 10,2024 - Last updated at Jun 11,2024

About 717, 000 Gazans benefitted from Jordanian aid (Photos of JHCO)

  

  • Shebli: We are striving to establish a Jordanian relief corridor to facilitate the delivery of aid to the sector
  • Shebli: Relief materials in the organisation’s warehouses are depleting over time
  • Shebli: Donations and international support are the cornerstones of our work inside Gaza
  • Shebli: We face logistical problems related to the number of aid transport trucks
  • Shebli: We need close cooperation on the ground to ensure aid delivery

AMMAN — The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO) is the main artery for sustaining life in the Gaza Strip. Jordan is a key gateway for transporting food, relief and medical aid to residents suffering difficult living conditions due to the crisis in the sector for more than 8 months. Today, Jordan is hosting “Call for Action: Urgent Humanitarian Response for Gaza” conference at the Dead Sea, at the invitation of His Majesty King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. 

The conference is attended by heads of state, government, and international humanitarian and relief organisations, with the objective to identify ways to bolster the international community’s response to the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip. 

In this context, The Jordan Times conducted a comprehensive interview with the secretary-general of the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation, Dr Hussein Shebli. 

 

Q: We would like the reader to know about the work of JHCO? 

 

Shebli: The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation is the official local destination for donations to Gaza. Over time, and due to the international community’s trust in Jordan, the organisation has become a regional hub for many countries to send aid by land and air through the kingdom, in cooperation with the Jordanian Armed Forces-the Arab Army, which has mobilised all its capabilities to transport relief materials to Gaza. 

Jordan has achieved significant and important achievements in Gaza by leveraging its previous experiences and high organisational capabilities. Since the onset of the recent crisis, JHCO has sent thousands of air and land shipments carrying food, medical and relief materials.

These shipments were primarily directed to hospitals and health centres suffering from severe shortages of medicines and medical equipment. We have also provided food aid to hundreds of thousands of affected families. This could not have been achieved without the concerted efforts of the logistical fieldwork team and continuous coordination with local authorities and partner organisations. 

 

Q: What is your message today after these long months of work? 

 

Shebli: Our message to the international community is an urgent call to intensify support and aid for Gaza. The situation requires immediate and comprehensive intervention without delay, and everyone must fulfill their humanitarian responsibilities. We raise a warning sign calling on donor countries, charitable institutions, and individuals to provide donations and humanitarian aid to support the Palestinian people in these difficult times. 

We emphasise that donations and logistical support are the only way to help the affected and rebuild what the war has destroyed. International solidarity and cooperation among all parties will make a real difference and restore hope to the people of Gaza. We urge the international community to stand by Gaza and provide the necessary support for recovery and prosperity. We do not want to reach the moment where everyone regrets inaction or doing nothing in the face of the escalating tragedy. 

 

Q: So, JHCO rely on donations and international support to sustain its work inside Gaza? 

 

Sebli: Absolutely, the relief materials in our warehouses are depleting over time, so donations and international support are the cornerstones of our work inside Gaza. Our continued activity depends on the financial and logistical support provided by donor countries, charitable institutions, and individual donors. Without this support, we will not be able to purchase essential materials or provide necessary services to the population. Therefore, we always strive to communicate with our international partners and present transparent reports on the use of funds and the challenges we face, which helps build trust and increase the chances of receiving more donations. 

 

Q: How is the aid distribution process carried out? 

 

Shebli: It is done through strategic partnerships with specialised UN and international relief organisations. We rely on these partnerships to ensure the effectiveness and speed of aid distribution. For instance, we cooperate with the World Food Programme and partner associations working in the Gaza Strip to ensure the coordinated and organised distribution of food and medicines. These partnerships allow us to distribute aid efficiently and ensure it reaches its recipients as quickly as possible. 

 

Q: What do you expect from the international community at this conference? 

 

Shebli: The prominent international participation in the conference is very important. The international response at all levels confirms a serious desire to help. We are currently working in cooperation with the international community and concerned parties to make Jordan a key point on the map of transit to Gaza by establishing a Jordanian relief corridor to facilitate the delivery of aid to the sector more effectively and quickly.

This corridor includes integrated logistical arrangements in coordination with the relevant authorities between Jordan and Gaza to ensure the smooth passage of relief convoys. We also coordinate efforts with UN and international organisations to ensure the sustainable and continuous provision of aid. The Jordanian relief corridor will allow us to increase the volume of aid sent and deliver it faster to those in need, especially in times of emergency crises, and Jordan has what it takes to play this humanitarian ethical role it bears on its shoulders, given its long-standing commitment to serving the Palestinian people. 

 

Q: What are the obstacles facing the organisation’s work in sending emergency relief materials? 

 

Shebli: Relief work is fraught with risks, it is not as easy as some might think and the path for the work of associations and humanitarian sector institutions is not paved.

There are many obstacles that hinder our way of sending relief materials to Gaza, including security restrictions imposed on border crossings that lead to delays in their arrival.

We also face logistical problems related to the number of trucks in the fleet, which do not meet the needs and require support. Additionally, there are challenges related to coordinating the movement of trucks and ensuring their safety, as several convoys have been attacked by settlers.

Moreover, there is a high cost to sending aid convoys; a single convoy of 100 trucks can cost up to half-a-million dollars, including transportation costs, fuel, and worker wages, as well as administrative costs.

For example, the distance between Amman and Gaza is about 220 kilometres, and covering a round trip for a convoy from Amman to Gaza requires about 5,000 liters of fuel.

As for the workforce, we need specialised teams of drivers, workers, and logistical assistants to ensure the safe and fast loading, transport and unloading of aid.

Coordinating distribution within the sector requires a large team of local volunteers and workers, in addition to close cooperation with local authorities to ensure aid reaches the neediest areas.

This work requires on-the-ground cooperation from international parties (organisations) and a well-organised and well-trained cadre to ensure the effectiveness and continuity of distribution.

Ensuring the continuity of this aid flow depends on securing financial and in-kind support and the active participation of the international community. 

 

Q: What are the concerns surrounding JHCO work? 

 

Shebli: The concerns facing Jordan include several aspects, such as the heavy reliance on donations and international support to provide aid, and any decline in this support could negatively affect Jordan’s ability to consistently provide aid.

Continuous closures and increased security measures at border crossings could also hinder or delay the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. There are challenges related to providing the necessary logistical resources, which can be complex and costly, and administrative challenges related to coordinating with various international and local organisations, which require significant organisational and administrative efforts to ensure aid reaches those in need.

Any disruption in this coordination can negatively affect the effectiveness of relief operations. Multiple crises may pose additional challenges to Jordan, such as local economic crises or natural disasters, increasing pressure on available resources and capacities to assist in Gaza.

Addressing these concerns requires careful planning and continuous coordination with international partners and relief organisations to ensure the effective and sustainable delivery of humanitarian support. 

 

Q: From your talk, it appears there are real concerns about what is to come? 

 

Shebli: I believe the greatest risk of famine has not yet arrived. It will become evident to everyone after the war ends, and if we do not take action now and set a precise plan, harsh scenes await us, epidemics will spread and the demand for the missing hospitals will increase. This humanitarian crisis cannot be compared to any previous crisis in modern times.

We expect many challenges and obstacles. First, there will be a significant need to rebuild the infrastructure that has been destroyed, as a movement within Gaza depends on establishing new roads, followed by building houses, hospitals and schools, which require enormous efforts and substantial funding necessitating a clear and steadfast international intervention.

Secondly, we will need to provide medical, psychological and social support to residents who have suffered psychological trauma due to the war, especially children and women, requiring specialised treatment services.

Thirdly, there will be challenges in restoring economic life and providing job opportunities for residents, especially since many businesses and commercial establishments have been destroyed or severely damaged.

Fourthly, compensating for the educational loss for students. These obstacles require careful planning and close cooperation with various donor entities and international organisations, along with a commitment to secure grants and funding for this purpose. We are seriously considering setting up temporary camps to shelter families who have lost their homes.

These camps will be equipped with tents, health facilities and water distribution stations. Additionally, we aim to provide food, blankets and essential clothing to ensure that living conditions in the camps are as acceptable as possible.

 

Q: Jordan has played a prominent role in relief efforts since the onset of the recent crisis in Gaza. Can we expand on this a bit with numbers? 

 

Shebli: Jordan has made significant efforts to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the sector since the crisis began. Early on, Jordan sent planes loaded with relief, food, and medical supplies from the Egyptian city of Al Arish, followed by airdrops led by His Majesty the King when various areas of Gaza, particularly the north, faced the threat of famine and death before Jordan could deliver aid through land convoys.

The number of trucks sent reached 1,865 within Jordanian land convoys and others in partnership with countries and international organisations.

The number of airdrops reached 358, including 257 in collaboration with friendly and brotherly countries.

We sent 53 planes to Al Arish, including 40 in partnership with relief organisations. Jordan was able to provide direct aid to Gaza residents in cooperation with partner organisations inside the sector, benefitting about 717,000 Gazans. The total amount of aid that reached Gaza through Jordan was about 31,000 tonnes, varying between food, relief, medical and health supplies.

From the beginning of the war, Jordan announced support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and provided financial assistance of $3 million to sustain its operations.

Under the directives of His Majesty the King, Jordan strengthened medical staff and supplies at the field hospital in Tel Al Hawa, established in northern Gaza in 2009, and ordered the establishment of another hospital in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. The two hospitals have received tens of thousands of citizens in Gaza.

During the peak of the war, medical supplies were delivered through airdrops to enable them to perform their work and provide the necessary services. His Majesty the King has been keen in all his movements and meetings with world leaders to emphasise the need to deliver aid to the people of Gaza without interruption and sufficiently, highlight the humanitarian tragedy faced by innocent people in the sector.

His Majesty organised an emergency international meeting in Amman at the end of November 2023 to coordinate the humanitarian response in Gaza, attended by leaders of international organisations, UN agencies, and representatives from Arab and foreign countries to identify urgent needs, address challenges, and prevent duplication of efforts.

Today, through the conference at the Dead Sea, he seeks once again to prevent the exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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