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Humanitarian aid for Gaza is loaded on a platform next to a rescue vessel of the Spanish NGO Open Arms at the port of Larnaca, Cyprus March 11, 2024. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Humanitarian aid for Gaza is loaded on a platform next to a rescue vessel of the Spanish NGO Open Arms at the port of Larnaca, Cyprus March 11, 2024. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Gaza Aid Ship Waiting to Sail from Cyprus as Charity Builds Jetty

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March 11, 2024

LARNACA, Cyprus (Reuters) – By Yiannis Kourtoglou and Stamos Prousalis

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A ship carrying tonnes of food for Gaza remained docked in a Cyprus port on Sunday as preparations were underway to launch a yet untested maritime aid route to the enclave, where the United Nations estimates a quarter of the population faces starvation.

The Open Arms, a salvage vessel, plans to tow a barge with 200 tonnes of food, mostly funded by the UAE. The supplies were sourced by charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), which is working with Spanish non-governmental organization Proactiva Open Arms.

WCK said it has another 500 tonnes of supplies in Cyprus, which will be dispatched in future missions.

However, the timing on the departure for the aid was unclear. Packing the cargo was completed late on Saturday, but one source said the departure was partly contingent on creating a makeshift jetty in Gaza to facilitate deliveries since the strip has no port infrastructure.

WCK is now constructing that jetty out of rubble.

“I hope @WCKitchen succeeds in delivering a new way to increase the arrival of food in Gaza.. And is (sic) complicated..with so many unknowns and challenges,” WCK’s founder Jose Andres, a Michelin-starred chef, said on social media platform X.

“But we never follow a plan, we adapt! And the plan writes itself as we go. And we will find the way.”

The pilot project envisages taking aid directly to Gaza, which has been sealed off from the outside world since Israel began its offensive in response to an Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

This mission, if successful, would effectively signal the first easing of an Israeli naval blockade imposed on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas took control of the Palestinian enclave.

With the humanitarian crisis in Gaza becoming increasingly desperate, international players are scrambling to find alternative routes to supply aid.

The US Army has dispatched a logistics ship carrying equipment, days after U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. would build a temporary pier to facilitate aid deliveries.

Cyprus said cargoes are to undergo security inspections in Cyprus by a team including Israel, eliminating the need for screenings at its offloading point to remove potential hold-ups in aid deliveries.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas, Stamos Prousalis and Yiannis Kourtoglou, writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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