A three-truck convoy carrying 80 mt of food items, including oil, sugar, rice and pasta, reached the Iraqi capital Baghdad from Jordan on Friday, becoming one of the first aid convoys to successfully negotiate the vulnerable 660 km desert highway linking the two countries.
Organised by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Red Crescent Society, the goods were being held at the UAE embassy in Baghdad pending handover to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, Sebastian Carliez, information delegate for the International Federation, told IRIN on Sunday.
“This was the first of many more convoys,” Carliez said, noting that the delivery was arranged through a bilateral agreement between the UAE and Iraqi Red Crescent Societies. The UAE convoy was accompanied by a fourth truck carrying 22 mt of antibiotics contributed by a private Jordanian pharmaceutical company.
Jordanian Minister of Trade and Industry Salah Bashir has confirmed that the border between Jordan and Iraq is open for aid supplies and other goods. The announcement follows a meeting Bashir held on Wednesday with Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan Sabah Yassin during which the two agreed on “a new mechanism to facilitate the entry of Iraqi imports from Jordan”.
The Karama border crossing into Iraq is located 350 km from the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Other recent shipments that have left Jordan but have not yet been confirmed in Baghdad have included the following:
A seven-truck convoy of medicines and medical supplies that was donated by the Jordanian government to the Iraqi Red Crescent, which left Amman on Friday evening, according to the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The shipment included anaesthetics, antibiotics, pain killers, disinfectants, blood units, insulin, syringes, bandages, empty blood bags, vaccines, and plaster to set broken bones.
Seventy mt of medicines donated by an Algerian delegation, which included doctors and representatives of the Algerian medical association and headed by former Algerian minister of solidarity, Jamal Wild-Abbas, crossed the Jordanian-Iraqi border on Sunday, according to The Jordan Times.
Sixty mt of medical supplies sent by the Jordanian Health Ministry upon request from the Iraqi Red Crescent, which also left the Karama border to Iraq on Sunday, according to The Jordan Times.
A two-truck convoy containing medical, surgical, and water/sanitation equipment sent by international humanitarian aid NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which was due to reach Baghdad on Monday, after several days of delay at Iraqi checkpoints.
Meanwhile, other NGOs have reported that they intended to send convoys of relief supplies from Jordan into Iraq, pending various authorisations and security clearances from authorities on both sides of the border.
In a related development, The Jordan Times reported on Saturday that more than 30 Jordanian oil tankers crossed into Iraq on Thursday and Friday after more than a week of almost a total traffic standstill between both countries due to the ongoing war.
Jordan Truck Owners Association (JTOA) President Mahmoud Zu’bi told the daily newspaper that the tankers crossed the border after receiving assurances from Iraqi officials that the road to Al Qaem oil pumping station, located near the Iraqi border with Syria, was safe.
Before the war began, between 600-700 oil tankers used to shuttle between Jordan and Iraq, carrying on average a total of between 10,000 and 14,000 mt of oil a day. Since the outbreak of hostilities, nearly 30,000 mt of oil have been trucked from the country’s reserve facilities in the southern port city of Aqaba to Jordan’s sole refinery in the industrial city of Zarqa, Zu’bi said.
Jordan’s Aqaba-based oil reserves are reportedly sufficient to meet the country’s needs for a period of more than three months.