April 13, 2024

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Gaza War: First aid ship departs from Cyprus

Gaza War: First aid ship departs from Cyprus

Video explanation,

Watch: José Andrés on his mission to feed thousands in Gaza

A Spanish ship towing a barge carrying 200 tons of much-needed food supplies for Palestinians in Gaza has finally set sail from Cyprus.

The Open Arms ship left Larnaca just before 09:00 (07:00 GMT) on a voyage that could take up to two days.

Gaza has no functioning port, so the American charity behind the mission, World Central Kitchen, is building a dock to receive aid.

The United Nations has warned that massive aid shortfalls have left Gaza on the brink of famine.

The fastest and most effective way to deliver aid to the region is by land. But aid agencies say Israeli restrictions mean a small fraction of what is needed enters.

If the Open Arms ship succeeds in docking in Gaza, other ships will follow as part of a European and Emirati naval effort to deliver more aid to Gaza.

Israel says it welcomes the establishment of a sea corridor and that it facilitates the transfer of aid to Gaza while its forces continue to fight Hamas.

The war began when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 hostage. The Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 31,180 people have been killed in Gaza since then.

The World Central Kitchen (WCK) announced that the first sea shipment of aid was on its way to Gaza on Tuesday morning after weeks of preparation.

The Open Arms, a rescue ship belonging to a Spanish charity of the same name, is towing a barge full of rice, flour, legumes, canned vegetables and canned proteins.

While at sea, Palestinians working at WCK will continue to build a jetty at an undisclosed location on the Gaza coast, which will be used to unload aid. They are using rubble from buildings and infrastructure destroyed over the past five months.

If the dock is ready in time, WCK says it will load the food onto trucks and distribute it to communities in need. The charity has a network of about 60 kitchens across Gaza, and has provided more than 35 million meals to an estimated 1.7 million displaced Palestinians there.

“We need to finish the dock that will allow us to load food! Failure is not an option… North.” [Gaza] He needs to be fed!”

Later on Tuesday, the United Nations World Food Program said it was able to bring an aid convoy into northern Gaza for the first time in three weeks.

The agency added that enough food for 25,000 people had been delivered to Gaza City, before saying: “We need aid to be delivered every day.”

The United Nations says that at least 576,000 people in Gaza, a quarter of the population, are one step away from famine.

He warns that time is running out for an estimated 300,000 people isolated in the north of the region, whom UN agencies have struggled to reach for months due to ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of law and order.

The Gaza Ministry of Health says at least 25 people, many of them children, have died from malnutrition and dehydration in hospitals there.

Image source, World Central Kitchen

Comment on the photo,

World Central Kitchen founder, José Andrés, posted a photo showing workers building a jetty on the Gaza coast

Yamen, a father of four children whose family takes refuge in the central city of Deir al-Balah, said: “We are starving in two ways: food is scarce, and what little is available is so expensive that it is beyond imagination.” Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

WCK says it has another 500 tons of aid in Cyprus ready to ship and that its goal is to create a “sea highway for boats and barges filled with millions of meals heading continuously toward Gaza.”

The Open Arms ship is the first aid ship to set sail as part of the Sea Corridor Initiative launched by Cyprus, with support from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said her journey was a “journey of hope and humanity” and that it could become a “lifeline for civilians.”

The United States has also launched a separate initiative that will see a military ship build a floating port off the coast of Gaza, including a temporary dock to transport supplies to shore.

Western and Arab countries also carry out air drops, mostly over northern Gaza. However, they are considered ineffective and expensive.

Two senior UN officials welcomed the opening of a sea corridor to Gaza, but they also warned that land routes were the only option to transport the large quantities of food needed.

“For large-scale aid delivery, there is no real alternative to the many land routes and entry points from Israel to Gaza,” said UN Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator in Gaza Sigrid Kaag and UNOPS Executive Director Jorge Moreira da Silva.

“Land routes from Egypt, Rafah in particular, and Jordan also remain essential to the overall humanitarian effort.”

The United Nations is urging Israel to open its crossings with the north, which were closed after the October 7 attacks, and allow the port of Ashdod, 37 kilometers (23 miles) from Gaza, to be used as an aid route.

Israel denies obstructing the entry or distribution of aid and blames UN agencies for failing to deliver permitted aid to people who need it.

“More aid trucks are arriving in Gaza through Israeli coordination with the private sector in Gaza – Palestinian businessmen.”

About 500 trucks – suitable for transporting up to 20 tons of material – crossed into Gaza daily on average before the war. In the first 10 days of March, an average of 162 trucks entered Gaza daily through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing and the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, according to the United Nations.

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