Updated March 12th, 2024 at 13:24 IST

First Aid Ship Sets Sail from Cyprus to Gaza in Humanitarian Pilot Project

This mission, largely funded by the United Arab Emirates, is spearheaded by the US-based charity World Central Kitchen (WCK).

Reported by: Sagar Kar
Palestinians receive food in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. | Image:AP
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In a significant effort to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a ship carrying nearly 200 tonnes of essential food supplies set sail from a port in Cyprus on Tuesday morning, marking the launch of a pilot project aimed at establishing a new sea route for aid delivery to a population teetering on the brink of famine.

The vessel, named Open Arms, was spotted departing from Larnaca port in Cyprus, towing a barge loaded with approximately 200 tonnes of flour, rice, and protein, essential items desperately needed by the people of Gaza.

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Here is what you need to know

This mission, largely funded by the United Arab Emirates, is spearheaded by the US-based charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), with support from the Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms, which is supplying the ship for the voyage.

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The initiative comes as Israel faces mounting criticism for its perceived failure to adequately facilitate humanitarian assistance to Gaza's population of 2.3 million, particularly in the wake of the five-month-long conflict that has left a quarter of the territory's residents on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations. Efforts by aid agencies to deliver vital humanitarian aid to Gaza have been impeded by various challenges, including logistical hurdles, a breakdown of public order, and lengthy bureaucratic processes imposed by Israel.

What is Israel's stance?

Despite these challenges, Israel has expressed openness to sea deliveries of aid to Gaza and has pledged to inspect cargo destined for the region before it leaves the staging area in nearby Cyprus.

The departure of the aid ship from Cyprus represents a glimmer of hope for the people of Gaza, offering a potential lifeline in their struggle for survival amidst dire circumstances. The success of this pilot project could pave the way for more efficient and effective aid delivery to Gaza in the future, providing much-needed relief to its beleaguered population.

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Published March 12th, 2024 at 13:24 IST