A ship delivering aid to Gaza is preparing to open a sea route from Cyprus to the war-torn strip

LARNACA, Cyprus (AP) — A ship carrying humanitarian aid is preparing to leave Cyprus and go to GazaInternational donors have launched a maritime corridor to bring supplies to the besieged region facing widespread hunger after five months of war, the European Commission president said on Friday.

The opening of the corridor, and the recent start of airdrops of aid, demonstrate growing frustration with Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and the international community’s willingness to bypass Israeli restrictions.

Several countries send troops to Cyprus to fight the country’s stubborn wildfires

Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that ships belonging to Spain’s Open Arms aid group would conduct trial voyages in the coming days to test the corridor. Cyprus, she is checking the preparations. The ship has been waiting in the Cypriot port of Larnaca for permission to provide food aid from World Central Kitchen, the US charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés.

Israel said on Friday it welcomed the maritime corridor. But it warned that safety checks would also be required.

In this photo provided by the French Army, a soldier gestures before airdropping some supplies into the Gaza Strip on January 4, 2024. On Friday, March 8, 2024, a senior EU official traveled to Cyprus to inspect preparations for the shipment of supplies. The urgent need to bring aid to war-torn Gaza by sea comes just hours after President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. military would set up a temporary port on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast to support such efforts.

“Cyprus’ initiative will allow for increased humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, subject to security checks in accordance with Israeli standards,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said on X (formerly Twitter).

Von der Leyen told a press conference with Cypriot President Nicos Christodoulides that the EU, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other relevant countries were opening the sea route in response to the “humanitarian crisis” taking place in Gaza. disaster”.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and innocent Palestinian families and children are in dire need of basic needs,” she said.

Open Arms founder Oscar Campos told The Associated Press that the ship is scheduled to depart on Saturday and will take two to three days to reach an undisclosed location where World Central Kitchen Group is building a dock to receive the ship. He said the organization has 60 food kitchens across Gaza to distribute aid.

He said the ship would tow a barge loaded with 200 tons of rice and flour off the Gaza coast. A pontoon boat will then be used for the final leg of the complex, towing the barge to the dock.

See also  Musk contributed more than just money to Trump's campaign

Campos said his team had been planning the delivery for two months long before the European Commission president announced the launch of the safe corridor. He said he was not concerned about the safety of the ship but “the safety and lives of the people of Gaza.”

“I don’t know if countries are planning to do something bigger, but we are doing everything we can” to leverage the organization’s 3 million euro budget from private donations, Campos said.

In Brussels, commission spokesman Balazs Ujvari said the Open Arms’ direct route to Gaza had raised some “logistical issues” that were still being resolved. He said United Nations agencies and the Red Cross would also play a role.

Efforts are underway to establish a sea route to deliver aid amid growing concerns about the spread of hunger among Gaza’s 2.3 million people. Hunger is most severe in northern Gaza, which has been quarantined by Israeli forces for months and has long been cut off from food supplies.

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a plan to build temporary terminals in Gaza to help deliver aid, emphasizing the need for the United States to deliver aid to Gaza bypassing Israel, its main Middle East ally and the largest recipient of U.S. military aid. Including airdrops that started last week. Israel accuses Hamas of monopolizing some of the aid supplies.

Aid officials say moving large amounts of aid by sea and air is more expensive and far less efficient than trucking it overland. Five people in Gaza were killed and many injured on Friday when an airdrop malfunctioned, hitting crowds and landing on houses, Palestinian officials said.

Over the past few months, hospital doctors have reported that 20 people have died from malnutrition in two northern Gaza hospitals as the Gaza Strip faces the risk of famine under Israeli bombings, attacks and sieges.

While reaffirming his support for Israel, Biden reiterated his demand for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow more aid to Gaza during his State of the Union address.

Biden declared before Congress: “I say to the Israeli leader: Humanitarian aid cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip.” He also reiterated his call for Israel to do more to protect civilians in fighting and work toward Palestinian statehood. , as the only long-term solution to Palestinian-Israeli violence.

See also  PBS NewsHour full episode, January 30, 2024 - PBS NewsHour

U.S. officials have said it could take weeks for the Gaza terminal to be operational.

Aid groups say their efforts to deliver much-needed supplies to Gaza have been hampered by coordination difficulties with the Israeli military, ongoing hostilities and a breakdown in public order. Reaching for help in the remote north was even more difficult.

Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. senior coordinator for humanitarian and reconstruction in Gaza, told reporters on Thursday night that air and sea transport could not make up for shortfalls in land supply routes.

Von der Leyen said the EU would continue to explore different ways of providing assistance to Gaza. She said the EU would consider “all other options, including airdrops” if our humanitarian partners on the ground felt this would be effective.

Meanwhile, efforts to reach a ceasefire before Ramadan appear to have stalled. Hamas said on Thursday its delegation had left Cairo, where talks are ongoing until next week.

International mediators had hoped to ease some of the looming crisis with a six-week ceasefire that would see Hamas release some Israeli hostages it is holding, Israel free some Palestinian prisoners and allow aid groups to access aid. Aid is pouring into Gaza.

Palestinian militants are believed to be holding around 100 hostages, as well as 30 human remains captured in the October 7 attack by Hamas. In this attack, militants killed approximately 1,200 people in Israel and took approximately 250 hostages. During a week-long truce in November, dozens of hostages were released and about 30 are believed to have died.

Gaza’s health ministry said at least 30,878 Palestinians had been killed. It did not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its tally but said two-thirds of the fatalities were women and children. The ministry, which is part of the Hamas government, keeps detailed records and its casualty figures from previous wars largely match those of the United Nations and independent experts.

Click here to get the Fox News app

Egyptian officials said Hamas had agreed to the main terms of the first phase deal but wanted to commit to an eventual more permanent ceasefire, while Israel wanted to limit negotiations to a more limited deal.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations with the media. Both officials said mediators were still urging the two parties to soften their positions.

Source link

By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *