Saturday, April 20, 2024

Aid ships with nearly 400 tonnes of food depart Cyprus for Gaza

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Saturday’s shipment marks the second delivery by sea as Gaza faces imminent famine while Israel continues to block aid.

A three-ship convoy has left Cyprus’s Larnaca Port headed for the Gaza Strip with nearly 400 tonnes of food and other supplies as people continue to die from hunger in the enclave amid Israel’s ongoing war.

The aid that departed on Saturday will be taken to Gaza by a cargo ship and a platform towed by a salvage vessel.

The shipment comes as several NGOs and rights organisations accuse Israel of deliberately blocking aid to Gaza, amid warnings of imminent famine in the besieged strip.

Charity, World Central Kitchen (WCK) said the vessels were carrying ready-to-eat items like rice, pasta, flour, legumes, canned vegetables, and proteins, enough to prepare more than one million meals. Dates, which are traditionally eaten to break the daily fast during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, were also on board.

An aid ship operated by the Spanish NGO Open Arms delivered 200 tonnes of food aid on March 16, which WCK distributed.

During that mission, a makeshift jetty was constructed from rubble to enable offloading in the enclave, which does not have any port facilities.

The mission was financed mainly by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and received the support of the Cypriot authorities.

Saturday’s dispatch includes two forklifts and a crane to assist with future marine deliveries.

Separately, the United States plans to construct a floating pier off Gaza to receive aid.

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said late on Friday that the target completion date is May 1, but it could be ready by around April 15.

Israel’s war on Gaza has displaced more than 80 percent of Gaza’s population and pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of famine, the United Nations and international aid agencies have said.

Israel’s military said it continued to attack dozens of targets in Gaza, days after the UN Security Council issued its first demand for a ceasefire.

Airdrops

The US military said during an airdrop on Friday that it had released more than 100,000 pounds (45,000kg) of aid that day and almost a million pounds (453,000kg) overall, part of a multicountry effort.

However, humanitarian officials say aid deliveries by sea and air are not enough and that Israel must allow far more aid by road.

Humanitarian groups have also criticised the drops as “symbolic” as Israel continues its war on Gaza.

In some cases, the drops have proven lethal, with one killing five people in an incident when a parachute failed to open, and 12 people drowned as they attempted to get aid dropped in the sea.

On Saturday in northern Gaza, a rare road aid distribution also turned deadly. Five people were killed and dozens injured by gunfire and a stampede while they were waiting to receive food, a Red Crescent paramedic from a nearby hospital said.

Impending famine

The UN-backed global authority on food security warned earlier this month that famine was likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave of 2.3 million people by July.

Speaking to reporters in Egypt on Saturday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that the state of near-famine can be dealt with in a short time if Israel opened the land crossings for aid to enter.

On Friday, a senior US Department of State official told the Reuters news agency that famine is “quite possibly” already present in parts of the north, adding that an obstacle to getting more aid to Palestinians was a scarcity of trucks in the enclave under Israeli siege.

“While we can say with confidence that famine is a significant risk in the south and centre but not present, in the north it is both a risk and quite possibly is present in at least some areas,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Wednesday described “tremendous challenges” to distributing aid in Gaza, including a “lack of security, lack of cooperation with the Israeli authorities, lack of a sufficient number of trucks, not enough fuel”.

Source

:

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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