Food aid from Cyprus reaches starving people in northern Gaza, says charity

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 8:31 AM

NICOSIA (Reuters) – A U.S.-based charity said a consignment of almost 200 tons of food aid had reached starving people in northern Gaza on Tuesday, a week after being despatched via a maritime route from the Cypriot port of Larnaca.

World Central Kitchen (WCK), working with the United Arab Emirates and Spanish charity Open Arms, sent the food via the 200-mile (322-km) sea route from Larnaca to a makeshift jetty off Gaza. The consignment arrived off Gaza on Friday.

A convoy of eight trucks belonging to the World Food Programme (WFP) then ferried the aid – the equivalent of half a million meals – to its final destination on Tuesday.

A U.N.-backed report said on Monday that famine was “imminent” in the northern Gaza Strip, where some 300,000 people are trapped by fighting. Across the whole Gaza Strip, the number of people facing “catastrophic hunger” has risen to 1.1 million – half the population.

A second vessel is now moored at Larnaca with 240 tons of food onboard, waiting to travel pending weather conditions, WCK and Cypriot government officials said.

“WCK is ready to send tonnes of food weekly to Gaza with support from the international community,” WCK said in a statement.

Aid agencies say the food that can be delivered by sea to Gaza, though welcome, is completely inadequate for the scale of people’s needs and they have urged Israel to allow far more aid in by road.

Cyprus, which backed the WCK initiative, aims to coordinate more aid to the besieged Palestinian enclave. It will host officials from a number of countries on March 21 for talks on the issue, government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis said.

“There will be an exchange of views on what material support states could offer .. The extent of humanitarian assistance non-combatants have in Gaza requires the support of many countries,” he told journalists.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Gareth Jones)