First aid ship departs Cyprus port for Gaza

First aid ship departs Cyprus port for Gaza


12 March, 2024

All routes must be used to get aid into Gaza and ward off a “humanitarian catastrophe”, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told European Parliament in Strasbourg today.

Earlier today, a ship transporting food left Cyprus to head to the enclave. The charity ship Open Arms was seen sailing out of Larnaca port towing a barge containing 200 tonnes of rice, flour, legumes, canned vegetables, and protein. The 320km voyage across the eastern Mediterranean to northern Gaza with a heavy tow barge could take up to two days, Cypriot officials have said.

It's expected to dock on northern Gaza's coast at a pier built by US-based charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), with the Israeli army set to vet the aid destined to the enclave, according to reports in The Times of Israel. North Gaza is the epicentre of a famine that has engulfed the enclave after five-months of relentless Israeli bombardment and siege which has killed at least 31,184 people, with a further 72,889 injured. The ship, funded mostly by the UAE, is organised by WCK while Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms supplied the ship. It is also part of a pilot project for a humanitarian sea corridor to Gaza.

Known as the Amalthea Initiative, the five-stage plan - initially proposed by Cyprus - would see food, medical supplies and shelter transported from Larnaca to Gaza. The initiative is backed by the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the EU, and a further 500 tonnes of aid is in Cyprus waiting to be sent as part of the initiative. Meanwhile, the US military said its vessel, General Frank S. Besson, was also en route to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza by sea.