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Gaza food aid from Cyprus reaches starving people in north of enclave, says charity

March 19, 2024 at 3:37 pm

Charity ship loaded with humanitarian aid, which set sail from the Larnaca Port, arrives off the coast of Gaza on March 15, 2024. [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

A US-based charity has confirmed that a consignment of almost 200 tons of food aid has reached starving people in northern Gaza today, a week after being despatched by sea from Cyprus.

World Central Kitchen (WCK), working with the UAE 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 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 today.

A UN-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 on board, waiting to travel pending weather conditions, noted WCK and Cypriot government officials. “WCK is ready to send tonnes of food weekly to Gaza with support from the international community,” said the charity.

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. Hundreds of aid trucks are lined up at the Gaza border awaiting permission to enter.

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 21 March for talks on the issue, government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis told journalists. “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.”

READ: UNICEF warns that malnutrition-related deaths of 23 children in Gaza just ‘tip of iceberg’