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Full Report: First aid shipment via Cyprus corridor departs for Gaza

The long-expected aid vessel heading for Gaza via the Cyprus-based corridor sent out the first consignment on Tuesday morning. It was part of a joint aid project known as “Amalthea.”

Though the Cyprus-proposed aid project has been endorsed by the European Union and several European countries, as well as the United States, security concerns from the Israeli side and the lack of proper jetties on the Gaza coast means it still takes time for the materials to reach the needy in the enclave.

President of the European Commission – Inspection at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre
JRCC, Larnaka, Cyprus The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, and the President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen, inspect the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.

“The journey of hope and humanity has just started,” Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said in a statement after a ship owned by Spanish NGO (non-governmental organization) Open Arms left the Larnaca port in southern Cyprus, towing a barge loaded with food, water and pharmaceuticals. He said more aid is expected to be shipped soon.

Local media said that due to the low towing speed of the barge, the 400-km journey to Gaza is anticipated to span two days, contrasting with the usual 15-hour duration.

The aid project was activated by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Christodoulides on Friday in Larnaca and later endorsed in a joint statement by the European Commission, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands.

According to Cypriot media reports, upon arrival in Gaza, the aid will be received by activists from the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK), which will help distribute it to the local population facing dire food shortages.

WCK revealed plans to create a maritime route for ongoing aid deliveries to Gaza, with an additional 500 tons of aid already prepared in Cyprus for shipment.

Furthermore, WCK highlighted that the jetty constructed on the Gaza coast utilized rubble from buildings demolished during Israeli airstrikes. This jetty serves as a separate facility from a temporary pier that will be built at another location with support from the U.S. military, facilitating the docking of larger aid vessels.

Von der Leyen announced the launch of the Amalthea project on Friday, however, the aid shipment, initially supported by contributions from the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, experienced a three-day delay due to ongoing construction of a jetty at the Gaza coast, which is necessary for unloading the 150 tons of aid.

On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that he had directed the U.S. military to lead a coalition effort to construct a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to facilitate the delivery of additional humanitarian aid. But it is expected to take up to two months for an auxiliary U.S. Navy ship departing from Virginia for Gaza to undertake the construction of the pier.

A few months ago, Cyprus launched the Amalthea initiative, aiming to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza through a maritime corridor via Cyprus. However, the corridor has only been used once thus far.

In January, a shipment of 87 tons of UK and Cypriot tents and medicines was delivered by a British navy ship to the Gaza people via the Egyptian city of Port Said.

Cypriot media reported the delay in the Amalthea project was due to the prolonged construction of a jetty on the Gaza coast, which is necessary for docking and unloading the 150 tons of aid from the barge.

Minister of Foreign Affairs – 60 Years of UNFICYP Old Nicosia Municipal Hall, Lefkosia, Cyprus
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Constantinos Kombos, addresses the event on 60 Years of UNFICYP, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Press and Information Office, in honour of the UN peacekeepers in Cyprus.

According to local media, before the aid was loaded on the ship, it had been vetted by Israeli officials, as Israel expressed concern that weapons or other military equipment that Hamas could use might be included in the cargo.

Israel has been launching a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip since October 2023. The Gaza Health Ministry reported on Monday that the Palestinian death toll has climbed to 31,112 since then.

BREAKING: Aid boat finally leaves Cyprus for Gaza

A ship taking food to Gaza has just left Larnaca. The charity ship Open Arms was seen sailing out of…

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