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Blankets, Medical Supplies, Water Filters: Rsaf Aircraft Deployed With Urgent Aid for Civilians in Gaza

Singaporeans have so far contributed a total of more than S$7 million in cash and in-kind donations to support relief efforts in Gaza.

A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aircraft carrying life-saving supplies for civilians in Gaza departed for Egypt from Changi Air Base (East) in the early hours of Thursday (Nov 30). 

The humanitarian package comprised medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, blankets, sanitation items, water filters and food from the Ministry of Health, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the Singapore Red Cross, Mercy Relief and Relief Singapore.

“We send this as an expression of Singaporeans’ support, Singaporeans’ compassion for innocent victims of this war,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan told reporters late Wednesday night at the air base, where he sent off the RSAF mission crew.

“We send these tokens of our support, our care and concern, and our compassion to our fellow human beings.” 

A total of 46 SAF personnel, including pilots, aircrew, engineers, and Singapore Army security personnel are involved in the humanitarian mission. 

The aircraft – an RSAF A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport – was deployed with the supplies “in view of the urgent need for aid” and “while humanitarian supply lines remain open”, noted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) in a joint statement. 

Israel and Hamas were negotiating through mediators on Wednesday over another potential extension of the Gaza truce, with hours left to reach a deal before fighting was due to restart after a six-day pause.

“Obviously we also hope that the humanitarian truce will be extended. Actually, ultimately what we all hope is that peace will prevail and that innocent lives will be protected,” added Dr Balakrishnan. 

Egypt’s Rafah border crossing has been the only entry point for humanitarian aid going into Gaza.

Head of global engagement for the Singapore Red Cross, Rebekah Lim, said the organisation believes that water filters will be “very useful in providing clean drinking water for the civilians in Gaza, making most of the limited water supplies available”. 

“The situation on the ground is complex. It is only through the strong collaboration with the authorities and our humanitarian partners, like the Egyptian Red Crescent, that we are able to channel more humanitarian assistance to those in need within Gaza,” she said.

MFA had engaged the Egyptian Red Crescent to determine which supplies were most needed, while SAF’s Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre (RHCC) led efforts to coordinate and consolidate aid from participating agencies.

The RHCC provides a platform to coordinate military responses to assist disaster relief efforts. It aims to build networks and linkages with both military and civilian humanitarian stakeholders, enhance information sharing and build capacity for disaster relief.

The supplies sent on Thursday are Singapore’s second tranche of humanitarian aid for Gaza, noted MFA and MINDEF in their statement.

The first tranche of assistance was delivered earlier in November when Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman was in Cairo. The Singapore Red Cross had handed over supplies, while non-profit organisation Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation handed over S$2 million (US$1.47 million) in public donations collected from their fundraiser. 

Singaporeans have contributed a total of more than S$7 million in cash and in-kind donations to support relief efforts in Gaza, said the ministries.

“Singaporeans feel deep compassion for victims of the war and have responded with heartfelt generosity.”

Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad, Egyptian Ambassador-designate to Singapore Ahmed Mostafa Abdelaal Mohamed, Singapore’s Representative to the Palestinian Authority Hawazi Daipi and representatives from participating NGOs also showed up to send off the RSAF crew at the air base.

Noting the coordination and consolidation of supplies, Mr Zaqy said this was “testament to our strong linkages and our close collaboration” between NGOs and the Singapore government.

“I thank the RSAF servicemen and women who are providing support for this mission, and I hope that they remain vigilant throughout the mission because we want them to also come home safe and secure to their family and loved ones,” he told reporters before the aircraft’s departure. 

Upon arrival in Egypt, Singapore’s Ambassador to Egypt Dominic Goh will witness the handover of the humanitarian package to the Egyptian Red Crescent. 

“Singapore will continue to work closely with our humanitarian partners to offer additional assistance and support to the affected communities,” added MFA and MINDEF. 

“We urge all parties to allow the immediate, safe, and unhindered provision of humanitarian aid to affected civilians throughout Gaza.”

The RSAF’s A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport was last deployed in 2021 to assist in the evacuation of Afghanistan evacuees. 

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