First aid ship to Gaza leaves Cyprus port in pilot project

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 2:07 AM

LARNACA, Cyprus (Reuters) -A ship taking almost 200 tonnes of food to Gaza left a port in Cyprus early on Tuesday in a pilot project to open a new sea route for aid to a population on the brink of famine.

The charity ship Open Arms was seen sailing out of Larnaca port in Cyprus, towing a barge containing around 200 tonnes of flour, rice and protein.

The mission, mostly funded by the United Arab Emirates, is being organised by U.S. based charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), while Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms is supplying the ship.

“Our goal is to establish a maritime highway of boats and barges stocked with millions of meals continuously headed towards Gaza,” said WCK founder Jose Andres and chief executive officer Erin Gore in a statement.

The charities intend to take aid directly to Gaza, which has been sealed off from the outside world since Israel began its offensive in response to an Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

With the lack of port infrastructure, WCK has said it was creating a landing jetty in Gaza with material from destroyed buildings and rubble. It has said it had another 500 tonnes of aid amassed in Cyprus which would also be dispatched.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas, Stamos Prousalis and Yiannis Kourtoglou; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Alex Richardson)