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British maritime shipment of aid for Gaza arrives in Egypt via Cyprus

The first British maritime shipment of aid for Gaza has arrived in Egypt, carrying almost 90 tonnes of thermal blankets and other essential items.

The lifesaving shipment was delivered from Cyprus by Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Lyme Bay, carrying thermal blankets, shelter packs and medical supplies provided by the UK and the Republic of Cyprus. From Port Said, the aid will be received by the Egyptian Red Crescent and will make its way to Al Arish and then through Rafah and into Gaza for distribution by UNRWA.

It follows a visit to Egypt from the British Foreign Secretary to Al Arish last month to meet with representatives from the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, who are coordinating the relief effort at the Rafah crossing, and the Defence Secretary’s visit to Cyprus and Israel on 7 December to push for accelerated aid deliveries into Gaza.

In London, the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary made clear that Israel must increase the flow of aid into Gaza and facilitate the delivery of relief on the ground, including through negotiated humanitarian pauses. The UK will continue to explore other routes for aid deliveries, including the Cypriot initiative for a maritime corridor between Cyprus and Israel/OPTs and supporting United Nations World Food Programme through the humanitarian land corridor from Jordan through Kerem Shalom.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said:

The UK is committed to supporting the people of Gaza. We have already trebled our aid commitment to Palestinians this year and today’s aid delivery – the first UK maritime shipment of aid for Gaza – via Port Said in Egypt contains almost 90 tonnes of vital supplies.

Significantly more aid needs to reach Gaza to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. The UK will continue to work with our partners in the region to open more aid routes into Gaza, including through the proposed maritime corridor between Cyprus and Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:

I recently visited the region to find the best way to get aid into Gaza and support those in desperate need. Today’s maritime aid delivery, the first of its kind, is a significant milestone.

RFA Lyme Bay has docked in Egypt with almost 90 tonnes of aid bound for civilians in Gaza. This includes shelters for winter, medical supplies and thermal blankets – all pre-screened in Cyprus. By testing new maritime routes, the UK is paving the way for other international donors to increase and accelerate aid deliveries.

The UK has so far announced it will spend almost £60 million in additional humanitarian funding in Gaza this financial year, trebling our existing annual budget to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). The most recent package of £30 million funding, announced by the Foreign Secretary on his last visit to the region, has been allocated to trusted partners on the ground including UNRWAUNICEFWFP, the OCHA Pooled Fund and the British Red Cross to support the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescent Societies.

Meanwhile, on the ground concentrated fighting has continued in Gaza, where attacks continue in the southern region of Khan Younis. As of Tuesday, Israeli airstrikes and raids by land forces are ongoing around the Gaza Strip. Residents say fighting has increased in Khan Younis, with Israeli jets and tanks pacing up attacks in the region.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza says more than 22,000 people have been killed in the territory since Israel started its retaliatory operation.


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Famagusta Gazette