First aid ship for Gaza sets off from Cyprus

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - LARNACA — A ship taking almost 200 tonnes of food to Gaza left a port in Cyprus early on Tuesday, in a pilot project to open a new sea route of aid to a population on the brink of famine.

The charity ship Open Arms was seen sailing out of Larnaca port in Cyprus, towing a barge containing flour, rice and protein.

The ship belongs to a Spanish charity of the same name.

Exactly where it plans to dock when it reaches Gaza has not been disclosed.

The mission, mostly funded by the United Arab Emirates, is being organized by US based charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), while the Spanish charity supplies the ship.

"Our goal is to establish a maritime highway of boats and barges stocked with millions of meals continuously headed towards Gaza," said WCK founder Jose Andres and chief executive officer Erin Gore in a statement.

The initiative is separate from a US plan to construct and operate a floating pier close to the Gaza coast, which will allow swift delivery of humanitarian aid.

The charities intend to take aid directly to Gaza, which has been sealed off from the outside world since Israel began its offensive in response to an 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas.

With the lack of port infrastructure, WCK has said it was creating a landing jetty in Gaza with material from destroyed buildings and rubble.

It has said it had another 500 tonnes of aid amassed in Cyprus which would also be sent. — BBC

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