Aid ship sets sail from Cyprus to Gaza, where hunger is worsening

An aid ship loaded with some 200 tons of food set sail Tuesday from Cyprus to Gaza, the international charity behind the effort said.

The shipment is a test for the opening of a sea corridor to supply aid to the territory, where starvation is spreading five months into the Israel-Hamas war.

World Food Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, posted on the X social media platform that a ship set sail on Tuesday. Associated Press live footage showed it being towed out of a harbour in the port city of Larnaca.

The foreign minister of Cyprus, the country that first championed the establishment of a corridor five months ago, described the launch on Tuesday as “a journey of hope and humanity.”

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile told European lawmakers in Strasbourg on Tuesday that “this is the first time that a ship is authorised to deliver aid to Gaza since 2005” and that “when fully operational, this maritime corridor could guarantee a sustained, regulated and robust flow of aid to Gaza.”

“The situation on the ground is more dramatic than ever, and it has reached a tipping point. We have all seen the reports of children dying of starvation. This cannot be. And we must do all in our power to stop it,” she added.

She announced that the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated to support EU member states’ efforts to ramp up deliveries of life-saving aid to Gaza, through the newly-established corridor as well as through airdrops.

The United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US are also taking part in the maritime corridor, named Amalthea.

Washington has separately announced plans to construct a sea bridge near Gaza in order to deliver aid, but it will likely be several weeks before it is operational.

The five-month-old war triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians and driven some 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people from their homes. The UN says a quarter of the population is starving. The attack that sparked the war killed some 1,200 people, and militants took around 250 hostages.

Gaza already relied heavily on aid prior to the war with about 500 humanitarian trucks delivering supplies on a daily basis but only about 100 trucks now make it into the enclave every day.

Aid groups say it is nearly impossible to deliver aid in much of the territory because of Israeli restrictions, ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of law and order after the Hamas-run police force largely vanished from the streets.

It’s unclear how effective the sea deliveries will be in addressing the humanitarian catastrophe, as there will still be difficulties in delivering the aid once it is inside Gaza.

(Source: Euronews)