UAE-backed food aid could leave Cyprus for Gaza by sea, EU says

The UAE’s dedicated efforts to mobilize support for the Initiative will culminate in the initial shipment of food by sea to the people of Gaza.

The head of the European Commission said on Friday that a maritime aid corridor could begin operating between Cyprus and Gaza this weekend, as part of accelerating Western efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in the enclave Palestinians ravaged by war.

Ursula von der Leyen’s comments come a day after President Joe Biden announced plans to allow the US military to build a “temporary pier” on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast, amid UN warnings concerning famine among the territory’s 2.3 million inhabitants.

Negotiations over a possible ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas, now in its fifth month, remained deadlocked in Cairo, while the human rights office The UN has urged Israel not to expand its military offensive in the border town of Rafah, saying it would lead to further “massive loss of life.”

European Commission President von der Leyen said a pilot test of food aid collected by a charity group and backed by the United Arab Emirates could leave Cyprus as early as Friday.

“We are launching this maritime corridor in Cyprus together, with the European Union, the United Arab Emirates and the United States,” she said after visiting the facilities in Larnaca, Cyprus. “We are now close to opening this corridor, hopefully on Saturday or Sunday, and I am very pleased to see that a first pilot project will be launched today.”

A joint statement released Friday by the UAE, EU, US, Britain and others said: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire, with innocent Palestinian families and children missing desperate for basic necessities. That is why today the European Commission, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, the Republic of Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States announce their intention to open a maritime corridor to provide much-needed additional resources. amounts of humanitarian aid by sea.

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference. Archive photo

Cyprus’ leadership in establishing the Amalthea Initiative, which outlines a mechanism to safely deliver aid from Cyprus to Gaza by sea, was instrumental in bringing about this joint effort to launch a maritime corridor. Together, our nations intend to build on this model to deliver significant additional assistance by sea, working in coordination with the UN Senior Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs and Reconstruction for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, in charge to facilitate, coordinate, monitor and verify the flow of aid to Gaza. Gaza under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2720. The UAE’s dedicated efforts to mobilize support for the initiative will result in the initial shipment of food by sea to the people of Gaza.

Cyprus will soon bring together senior officials to discuss how we can accelerate this maritime channel to help those in need, complementing land and air routes, including from Egypt and Jordan. The United States announced an emergency U.S. military-led mission to establish a temporary dock in Gaza, in coordination with humanitarian partners and other countries, to enable the delivery of significant amounts of aid by sea. These efforts will be closely coordinated with the Israeli government.

Delivering humanitarian aid directly to Gaza by sea will be complex, and our nations will continue to evaluate and adjust our efforts to ensure we deliver aid as efficiently as possible. This maritime corridor can and should be part of a sustained effort to increase the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial goods to Gaza by all possible routes. We will continue to work with Israel to increase land deliveries, insisting that it facilitate more routes and open additional crossings to deliver more aid to more people. We affirm that the protection of civilian lives is a key element of international humanitarian law that must be respected. And together, we must all do more to ensure aid reaches the people who desperately need it.

‘WE DON’T NEED THEIR HELP’: The Palestinian Authority also welcomed Biden’s comments, but the reaction from ordinary Palestinians was much less positive.

Delivering humanitarian aid directly to Gaza by sea will be complex.

“Instead of telling us they will build a port to help us, stop (providing) the weapons they are throwing at us,” said Hassan Maslah, a displaced Palestinian from Khan Younis who is now sheltering in Rafah.

“All these American weapons are killing our children and killing us everywhere we go. We don’t need their help, we need them to stop the killings, stop the deaths,” he said, as Gazans searched nearby rubble after another Israeli airstrike .

Hamas has not yet responded to requests for comment on the US plan.

Five Palestinians were killed and several injured when aid boxes dropped by planes fell on them by mistake in northwest Gaza on Friday, said Mahmoud Basal, a spokesman for the Civil Emergency Service in Gaza.

Some footage showed dozens of people running as the boxes fell, shouting at each other to avoid the boxes.

Separately, Palestinian health officials said eight people from one family were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their home in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

WAM / Agencies

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