Ship Holding Humanitarian Aid for Starving Palestinians Stuck on Cyprus

NICOSIA – With reports as many as 25 percent of the 2.4 million Palestinians stuck in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s hunt there for Hamas terrorists are at risk of starving, a humanitarian aid vessel holding food hadn’t left Cyprus as hoped.

A charity leading the mission told the BBC it is “a quickly evolving and fluid situation,” but hopes the ship, Open Arms, operated by a Spanish charity would sail after reports that “technical difficulties” were holding up the departure.

That came as a new moon marked the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Gaza, no signs of a ceasefire yet and the United States sending airdrops and planning to build a port at the strip, which could take two months.

A port marine boat pushs the platform of aid as it prepares to ferry some 200 tons of rice and flour directly to Gaza, at the port in Larnaca, Cyprus, on Sunday, March 10, 2024. The European Commission president said Friday the Open Arms ship will make a pilot voyage as international donors launched a sea corridor to supply the besieged territory that is facing widespread hunger after five months of war. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

President Joe Biden issued a Ramadan message on Sunday, and said the suffering of Palestinians would be in his “front of mind” as Ramadan arrived at “a moment of immense pain,” after he chastised Israel for not holding down civilian casualties that had mounted to 30,900 dead.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres marked the beginning of the holy month with a video message of “solidarity and support to all those suffering from the horrors in Gaza,” no mention made of Hamas terrorists who raided Israel in October and killed 1200.

Once it sets sail from Cyprus – the closest EU country to Gaza – the ship will tow a barge loaded with 200 tons of food, including rice, flour and cans of meat and fish, sourced by US charity World Central Kitchen (WCK).

That would take two days to reach an undisclosed location off the coast of Gaza, using a new sea route the EU said would be opened over the weekend but only after international inspectors, including from Israel, would check the cargo for weapons.

A spokesperson for WCK told the BBC the charity has started building a jetty to safely get the food to shore. They added WCK has another 500 tons of aid in Cyprus ready to go on other missions to meet the needs of the hungry.

Aid deliveries into Gaza have been increasingly difficult and dangerous – the World Food Program paused its deliveries to northern Gaza last month, after its convoys endured “complete chaos and violence,” the organization said.

The conflict has created a growing humanitarian crisis, and the UN has warned that famine in Gaza is “almost inevitable,” with an estimated 300,000 Palestinians living there with little food or clean water.


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