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Freedom Flotilla for Gaza aid further delayed after Guinea-Bissau withdraws ships

April 29, 2024 at 9:09 pm

Marry Ann Wright speaks to press during the protest against Guinea-Bissau for removing its flag from ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on April 27, 2024 at the Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, Turkiye [Erol Değirmenci – Anadolu Agency]

A ‘Freedom Flotilla’ aiming to set off from Turkiye to deliver urgent aid to the besieged Gaza Strip has been further delayed due to the withdrawal of two ships under the flag of Guinea-Bissau, apparently as a result of Israeli pressure.

According to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition – consisting of NGOs and associations aiming to deliver aid to Gaza – the convoy of vessels was unable to set sail over the past few days after the West African country of Guinea-Bissau pulled out its two flagged vessels from the Flotilla.

“The Guinea-Bissau International Ships Registry (GBISR), in a blatantly political move, informed the Freedom Flotilla Coalition that it had withdrawn the Guinea Bissau flag from two of the Freedom Flotilla’s ships, one of which is our cargo ship, already loaded with over 5,000 tons of life-saving aid,” the Coalition revealed over the weekend.

The move came after authorities in Guinea-Bissau had been making several “extraordinary” requests for advanced information including destinations, estimated arrival dates and times, cargo manifest and potential additional port calls. “Normally, national flagging authorities concern themselves only with safety and related standards on vessels bearing their flag,” the Coalition said.

The reason for the withdrawal of the vessels and subsequent delay of the Flotilla’s schedule is directly a result of pressure from Israel and the United States, according to the Flotilla’s organisers. “Sadly, Guinea-Bissau has allowed itself to become complicit in Israel’s deliberate starvation, illegal siege and genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,” they said.

READ: Freedom Flotilla stuck in Turkiye port due to reported US pressure