April 18, 2024

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The Gaza aid ship has not yet left Cyprus

The Gaza aid ship has not yet left Cyprus
  • Written by Sofia Ferreira Santos
  • BBC News

Image source, World Central Kitchen

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The ship is towing a barge loaded with dry and canned food for Gaza residents

The ship carrying humanitarian aid, which was scheduled to depart for Gaza on Sunday, remains docked in Cyprus.

A charity leading the mission told the BBC that the situation was “rapidly evolving and fluid”, but it hoped the Open Arms ship would set sail soon.

On Sunday evening, the sighting of the new crescent marked the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan in Gaza.

Many had hoped for a ceasefire by now, but negotiations between Israel and Hamas have largely stalled.

President Joe Biden issued a Ramadan message on Sunday, saying the suffering of Palestinians will be “at the forefront of his concerns” as Ramadan reaches a “moment of intense pain.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also marked the beginning of the holy month with a video message of “solidarity and support for all those suffering from the atrocities in Gaza.”

The United Nations warned earlier that a quarter of Gaza's population is on the brink of famine, and that children are starving to death there.

The ship belongs to the Spanish charity of the same name, Open Arms.

Once it sets sail from Cyprus – the closest EU country to Gaza – the ship will tow a barge loaded with 200 tons of food, including rice, flour and canned meat and fish, supplied by the US charity World Central Kitchen (WCK).

It is expected to take about two days to reach an undisclosed location off the coast of Gaza, using a new sea route that the European Union said would open over the weekend.

A WCK spokesperson told the BBC that the charity had begun building a small jetty to safely transport food to shore. They added that WCK has another 500 tons of aid in Cyprus ready for use on future boats.

Separately, a US military ship is sailing towards Gaza, carrying equipment to begin building a floating dock to help deliver aid to the Strip by sea.

With ground deliveries almost impossible, many countries have resorted to air drops.

But the situation in Gaza is so dire that drops are an ineffective way to get supplies to the people who need them most.

The Israeli military launched an air and ground campaign in the Gaza Strip after Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed and 253 others were taken hostage.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Strip says more than 30,900 people have been killed in Gaza since then.

The conflict has created a growing humanitarian crisis, and the United Nations has warned that famine in Gaza is “almost inevitable,” with an estimated 300,000 Palestinians there living with little food or clean water.

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