Ship carrying humanitarian supplies to beleaguered Gaza prepares to set sail

Open Arms says preparations for a maritime aid corridor have been ongoing for weeks

The ship is loaded with humanitarian supplies for Gazans trapped by the fighting
The ship is loaded with humanitarian supplies for Gazans trapped by the fighting

Spanish aid vessel, Open Arms, is expected set sail on Saturday, aiming to test a proposed shipping corridor and deliver humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged Gaza strip.

The ship will depart from Cyprus, as it is the closest EU country to Gaza, but where it is to unload its cargo is unclear, as Gaza's ports have been knocked out of commission by Israeli bombs and US President Joe Biden announced that his military forces are to build a temporary port on Gaza's Mediterranean coast to receive humanitarian aid arriving by sea, only yesterday.

The voyage is being organised by World Central Kitchen, a US-based charity organisation. Pallets of humanitarian aid were being loaded onto the vessel on Saturday, before its planned departure to northern Gaza.

“We have been preparing for weeks alongside our trusted NGO partner Open Arms for the opening of a maritime aid corridor that would allow us to scale our efforts in the region,” the charity said.

The vessel will be used to tow a barge, loaded with food and supplies for the people of Gaza, where conditions have deteriorated dramatically after over five months of war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. The plight of Gazan communities, who are cut off from outside aid by Israeli forces has already prompted some countries to airdrop food and other necessities.

“The endeavor to establish a humanitarian maritime corridor in #Gaza is making progress, and our tugboat stands prepared to embark at a moment's notice, laden with tons of food, water, and vital supplies for Palestinian civilians,” Open Arms said in a tweet published on X yesterday.

“The situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating, and time is of the essence. How many more lives must be sacrificed before the world responds with the urgency that the situation demands?”

The ship docked in Cyprus three weeks ago in preparation for the joint mission with World Central Kitchen. 

Speaking earlier this week in Larnaca, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that a maritime aid corridor could open this Sunday, explaining that a “pilot operation” was to be launched with the help of the United Arab Emirates, which had secured “the first of many shipments of goods to the people of Gaza”.