Miles Of Smiles Convoy Still Stuck In Egypt
Thursday October 22, 2009 13:36 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Members of the Miles of Smiles convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip are still stuck in Egypt as the Egyptian Authorities are holding the donated humanitarian supplies meant to be delivered to the Gaza Strip.
They received several promises to have all procedures eased so they can enter the Gaza Strip and deliver the supplies, but none of the promises came true.
Several European embassies in Egypt are communicating with convoy members and with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in an attempt to know when the convoy would be allowed into Gaza, especially since prior arrangements were made with Egypt to facilitate the trip.
Convoy members were surprised by the bad treatment they received, and the lack of cooperation, while they were previously assured by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry that they can enter Gaza via the Rafah Border Terminal without any delays.
They made sure to bring the equipment and aid materials approved by the Egyptian Authorities, while Egyptian embassies in their countries vowed full cooperation.
Zuheir Berawy, spokesperson of the convoy, said that the Egyptian Authorities vowed to respond to him on Wednesday with a specific date for allowing the convoy through.
He added that convoy members, especially from Arab origins, are concerned about Egypt’s image among the international members of the delegate, as some complications in procedures should not appear as an attempt to obstruct the convoy and its members, especially since it is a humanitarian mission.
There are several containers loaded with more than 100 vehicles filled with aid, especially for children, and residents with special needs. There are 275 wheelchairs, dozens of computers for schools bombarded during the Israeli war, and other basic supplies.
Convoy members are 115 persons from Europe, including European and Arabic figures, and representatives of institutions participating in the campaign.
UNRWA Commissioner, Karen Abu Zeid, urged the Egyptian Authorities to facilitate the entry of the convoy into the Gaza Strip in order to deliver the supplies, especially the wheelchairs, medical equipment, and other essential equipment especially those meant to be used by handicapped children.