U.N. aumanitarian air operations take place throughout the world in areas impacted by conflict or natural disasters. Photo credits left to right (Irene Scott - South Sudan, Arnur - Liberia, Joshua Hammer, Mali).
Project Unified Assistance (PUA) is a US-based humanitarian nonprofit organization advocating for the establishment of a UN operated and regulated airport in the Gaza Strip.
1. Promote the establishment of a desperately needed transport corridor to get passengers in and out of the Gaza Strip and to support humanitarian relief efforts through shipments of cargo on freight aircraft.
2. Demonstrate the social, economic, and political benefits of creating an independent travel mechanism that would allow Gazans to exit and enter the territory through a secure non-Egyptian and non-Israeli crossing.
3. Develop a sound operations model and effective procedures for how the airport is to be operated by the United Nations with financial support from Arab, regional, and international stakeholders.
4. Mount a public and diplomatic educational campaign to inform relevant parties around the world about the potential that the proposed airport presents to improve the lives of civilians in Gaza.
5. Create technical details pertaining to the proposed airport and develop a variety of materials which can be used for implementation purposes.
6. Establish a general framework for how cargo airlifts would take place whereby humanitarian aid would be flown into Gaza, and suitable commercial goods would be flown out of Gaza to be distributed in regional markets.
1. Establish Organizational Foundations and Structures
2. Grow and Expand the Concept of Third-Party Management of the airport
3. Conduct Diplomatic, Organizational, and Public Outreach
4. Build a Base of Support
5. Develop Technical Details
6. Forecast the Financial Costs of Implementation
7. Harness the Energies and Talents of Supporters
8. Develop Strategies for Messaging and Communication
1. Staff: for now, consists of the founder and executive director, Ahmed Alkhatib.
2. Board of Directors: responsible for ensuring fiscal and administrative accountability of the project's constituents, allies and supporters.
3. Advisers: a network of advisers who help staff and volunteers with strategic planning, growth and expansion, setting priorities, and increasing the reach of the project's message.
4. Volunteers: dozens of individuals have and continue to perform volunteer work for the project. Whether it is on an ongoing basis or as needed, people who believe in this project's vision have been generous with their time to help move the organization forward. This includes artists, engineers, marketers, outreach consultants, UN policy experts, web designers, and others, without whom this project would not be possible.
Strategic Principles of PUA's Vision
1. Embracing the concept of deploying UN aircraft and management as this proposal is based on a desire to utilize a proven aviation model which has been applied successfully around the world.
2. Maintaining a commitment to the humanitarian framework of the proposed airport, away from the political stalemate amongst stakeholders.
3. Adhering to the principle that all people have a right to travel freely and without constraints per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The proposed airport would help the people of Gaza in realizing this right to travel freely. Palestinians should not be expected to pay a political price for getting this airport established, especially since the proposed airport will not threaten Israel's security nor strengthen political parties at the expense of Gaza's residents.
4. Implementing the proposed airport without connecting it to the Palestinian internal reconciliation or peace negotiations with Israel.
5. Accepting the strategic, geographic and technical reasons behind the proposed new location for the airport, away from the borders with Israel and Egypt. The optimal area in the Gaza Strip that can address multiple challenges and fulfill critical strategic requirements lies on the southwestern coast between Khan Yunis and Rafah (known as al-Mawasi).
6. Prioritizing the selection of flight paths over the Mediterranean Sea to avoid using Israeli and Egyptian airspaces. This would consolidate the independence of the airport's operations under international rules, which regulate flying over international waters.
7. Acknowledging that, at the moment, and in the near future, it is not in the interest of Palestinians (politically, administratively, and financially) to have control of a new airport in Gaza. UN administration of the proposed airport will ensure the continuity of its services until a long-term solution is reached, while providing an international umbrella of legitimacy and protection of the facility against possible destruction.
There are many historic and contemporary precedents that make the Gaza Airport Proposal (GAP) feasible and practical: the United Nations (UN) ran an airport in Gaza during the 1950s and 60s; for the last 30 years, the UN has and continues to conduct humanitarian air operations in areas impacted by violence and disasters; Gaza had a short-lived airport in the last 20 years; international E.U. monitors operated the Rafah Border Crossing in 2005 and 2006; and since the 2014 war, the UN's Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has been implementing the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) with the help of a private company (CTG Global) to ensure that dual-use materials are not diverted for illegitimate use in militant activities. GAP is about hope, mobility and stability for two million people.