Gift of the Givers (GOTG) founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman has questioned why the humanitarian agency has been delayed by Egyptian authorities from entering the Rafah border into Gaza. The team of 10 medical doctors is currently in Cairo, awaiting clearance from the Egyptian embassy to cross the border and begin its humanitarian mission in the war-devastated Gaza Strip.
However, the agency’s consignment of relief aid has been charted to Macedonia, two hours away from Egypt. According to Dr Sooliman, all reports the borders being opened as part of a ceasefire agreement are false.
“It is no longer a medical issue. It is an issue of opening the border and sharing solidarity with the people on the other side,” said Dr Sooliman.
He said the Egyptian government demanded a list of names of the medical doctors in the delegation 48 hours before they departed. The relief agency issued that list but was not given written confirmation and as a result the aircraft was prohibited to enter Cairo.
Many other aid workers have been prohibited from entering Rafah as well. Dr Sooliman said he also received reports that no food aid and other medical aid have not entered Rafah since the ceasefire was announced on Tuesday.
“I was under the impression many medical workers had gone in [to Gaza]. In reality, not many people have crossed and some only stayed for 24 hours. So you can imagine the great need on the inside.”
“This is making people become suspicious of what is happening. Why do you not want people to go when you said they can go? Something is seriously wrong. What are they trying to hide?” said Sooliman.
“This is not a political issue it is a humanitarian issue. People are dying on the inside,” he added.
Meanwhile, messages are being circulated for South Africans to call the Egyptian embassy to pressure them to open Rafah. Dr Sooliman agreed that the public should lobby authorities as many aid workers are being turned away.
“We need to open up the border. We not forcing them to, because they [Egypt] said it would be open. All we saying is, let us go through and give those people a hand.” VOC