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Mar 13, 2024, 7:39am EDT
Middle East
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Semafor Signals

First Gaza aid ship sets sail from Cyprus

Insights from the Associated Press and the Financial Times

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Aid ship sails, amidst a test to launch a new sea route from a port in Cyprus to deliver aid to residents of the Gaza Strip who are on the brink of famine, at sea, March 12, 2024, in this screen grab from a handout video. World Central Kitchen/Handout via REUTERS
World Central Kitchen/Handout via REUTERS
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The News

An aid ship bound for Gaza set sail from Cyprus, carrying 200 tonnes of food along a newly opened maritime corridor to assist a population on the brink of famine.

The enclave has been hit by a desperate shortage of humanitarian supplies as ground-based aid transfers have been curbed by Israeli restrictions amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

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It could take the Open Arms ship up to two days to reach Gaza, which currently lacks an operational port. The U.S. is constructing a new dock but the project is expected to take several weeks.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Children and babies suffering acute malnutrition

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The Associated Press

Officials from the United Nations have repeatedly said that Palestinians in Gaza are facing a famine, and children are dying of hunger. At least 20 people have died of hunger in the enclave’s north, Gaza’s health ministry said last week, and in the southern city of Rafah, 16 premature babies died of malnutrition. One doctor told the Associated Press that his team treats as many as 400 children per day, and 75% are suffering from malnutrition. Breastfeeding mothers, meanwhile, are too malnourished to feed their babies, meaning that within days newborns “are brought back to us in a terrible state,” the doctor said.

Aid by sea is insufficient to address crisis

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Source:  
The Financial Times

Experts are questioning whether humanitarian supplies delivered by sea will be enough to avert the growing hunger crisis in Gaza. The population already depended on aid: Before the war at least 500 truckloads of food and fuel entered the enclave every weekday. That figure has fallen to typically under 200 a day, the Financial Times reported, as Israeli inspections slow down deliveries. Israel’s allies, including the U.S., have urged the government to send more humanitarian aid to Palestinians displaced by the conflict. The only solution to the worsening situation is to “flood” the enclave with supplies, officials have said, not only to help starving children, but also to undercut gangs and a flourishing black market by disincentivizing looting.

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