Charity Workers Load Relief Supplies for Gaza on Barge in Cyprus

20240310 073505

Charity workers on a barge in Cyprus loaded relief supplies bound for Gaza on Saturday.

This effort is part of an international initiative to establish a maritime corridor to help the Palestinian population, which is facing famine. The European Commission had announced that a maritime aid corridor between Cyprus and Gaza could start operating this weekend, thanks to a pilot project run by an international charity and financed by the UAE.

The Open Arms, a salvage vessel owned by a Spanish NGO, was stationed at a port in the coastal town of Larnaca in Cyprus, approximately 210 miles northwest of Gaza. It will tow a barge carrying 200 tonnes of food provided by the charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), mostly funded by the UAE. The exact timing of the departure from Cyprus remained uncertain due to security reasons, according to Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides.

The WCK spokesperson stated that the departure would occur as soon as conditions were favorable. It is estimated to be a 15-hour sea journey to Gaza, but the towing of the barge might prolong the duration. The United States also plans to construct a temporary jetty in order to deliver aid to Gaza, as it lacks port infrastructure, and initially intends to utilize Cyprus. By involving Israeli officials in the screening process of the cargoes in Cyprus, security checks can be avoided in Gaza.

Charity Workers Load Relief Supplies for Gaza on Barge in Cyprus 1

Meanwhile, negotiations for a possible ceasefire in Israel's conflict with Hamas have reached an impasse. Aid agencies have been warning about an approaching famine after five months of Israel's campaign against Hamas. With most of Gaza's 2.3 million residents being internally displaced, aid deliveries at land border checkpoints face significant obstacles.

The potential sea corridor from Cyprus would complement existing efforts to increase aid supplies, including airdrops of food. WCK is in partnership with Spain's Proactiva Open Arms, and both organizations agree that multiple ships will be required to maintain a steady flow of aid. They have already prepared another 500 tonnes of aid to follow the initial shipment.

Gaza Relief

The spokesperson for WCK clarified their intention to sail directly to Gaza, where they and their partners are constructing a jetty not connected to the U.S. project. Gaza has been under an Israeli naval blockade since 2007, following Hamas' takeover of the region, leading to limited direct sea arrivals. In 2008, pro-Palestinian activists used small sailboats to enter Gaza harbor via Larnaca port.

[Reuters]

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