Aid supply ship from Cyprus reaches Gaza coast but weather slows delivery

Aid agencies have said that plans to bring in aid by sea and through air drops will not be enough to satisfy the territory's vast needs

Reuters
Published : 15 March 2024, 11:00 AM
Updated : 15 March 2024, 11:00 AM

A ship towing a barge loaded with food arrived off Gaza on Friday, witnesses said, in a test run for a new aid route by sea from Cyprus into the devastated Palestinian enclave where famine looms after five months of Israel's military campaign.

The ship, arranged by the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity, is carrying nearly 200 tonnes of aid to be delivered via a jetty being prepared in Gaza, with a second ship expected to sail soon.

Floating on a barge attached by rope to a salvage ship, rough seas appeared to slow down the cargo reaching land, footage posted by a WCK official on social media showed.

WCK have been constructing a makeshift jetty which would allow the flat-bottomed barge to approach Gaza's shallow waters for lack of proper port infrastructure.

"So far 2 crates have already been delivered from the barge," WCK founder Jose Andres, a Michelin-starred chef, said in a post on X. "But still more to do in the next few hours".

There are few details on how the aid delivery and distribution will work once it is ready to unload in Gaza, with UN relief agencies having described huge obstacles to getting relief supplies to those in need.

If the new sea route is successful, it may help to ease the hunger crisis affecting Gaza, where much of the population faces malnourishment and hospitals in the worst-stricken northern areas have reported children dying of starvation.

However, bringing in aid by sea and through air drops will not be enough to make up for difficulties getting in supplies by land, aid agencies have repeatedly said.

The war in Gaza began on Oct 7 when Hamas fighters rampaged into Israel killing 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's air and ground campaign has since killed more than 31,000 Palestinians according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza, while driving most of the population from their homes and pushing the enclave towards famine.