UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- For the first time in seven years, a humanitarian convoy of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) successfully crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a UN spokesman said here.
After a seven-hour drive from Alexandria across the Sinai Peninsula, the trucks, carrying enough food to feed 150,000 people for five days, arrived at the Rafah crossing, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at a daily news briefing, adding that a second convoy is expected to cross into Gaza in the coming days.
This is the first time that the WFP has used the Rafah crossing point since the Israeli blockade was imposed in 2007.
The WFP said that it is extremely important that it has access to the Gaza Strip from different routes to ensure a constant flow of supplies to meet the growing needs of people affected by the violence. It also expressed its gratitude to the Egyptian government for opening the Rafah crossing and for allowing the WFP to procure food in Egypt, Dujarric said.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that heavy movement of people and traffic was observed across the Gaza Strip Wednesday, with government and aid agency staff returning to their work places. Shops and markets were open. OCHA field officers are conducting assessments of displaced people, according to the spokesman.
After 50 days of profound human suffering and devastating physical destruction, the war in Gaza ended on Tuesday after Israel and the Palestinians agreed on an open-ended ceasefire.
According to the UN, the number of displaced people has already declined dramatically. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reported that as of Wednesday morning, there were approximately 53,000 displaced people staying in their shelters, down from nearly 290,000 as of Tuesday.
The UNRWA estimated that more than 100,000 displaced people will stay at UNRWA shelters because their homes have been destroyed. OCHA and the Palestinian authorities are working together on a Gaza Early Recovery and Reconstruction plan whose first phase will cover 100 days after the ceasefire.
The ceasefire also enables the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to undertake risk assessments at UNRWA sites. Thousands of explosive remnants of war have been left in civilian areas impacted by conflict.