Jordanian Lifeline Convoy Say No to Viva Palestina Arabia 6
Jordanian Lifeline Convoy say no to Viva Palestina Arabia 6 Convoy
Click for big version.
Gaza TV News reporter, Abeer Salamih, speaks to Wael As-Sakka, Jordanian Lifeline Committee Chairman and spokesperson, who are the organisers of the Ansar II convoy leaving from Jordan to Gaza on the 18th May.
Q: How long has the Jordan Lifeline Committee been planning the Ansar II convoy and how are you intending to travel across to Gaza given this route was blocked in your previous attempts in 2009/2010?
We have been planning the Ansar II convoy for quite sometime now as the necessary arrangements with the Egyptian authorities needed to be organised well in advance.
The new Egyptian authorities have provided us with approval to travel across from Aqaba to Nuweiba and from there we will travel across the Sinai directly to the Rafah crossing by local coaches that we have organised.
We are travelling by coach as part of the arrangement with both the Jordanian and Egyptian authorities is that no vehicles would enter Nuweiba from Aqaba as a convoy.
So now we are ready and grateful to be making this journey across Egypt to Gaza from Jordan in what we are hoping will become a become a regular Jordanian convoy to support our people in Palestine
What are the nationalities of the participants on this convoy and how many are making this journey?
This is a Jordanian only convoy as our friends from Miles of Smiles organise international convoys every month from Cairo directly to Gaza.
We are experienced in organising convoys being one of the principal partners of Lifeline 3 and 5 that successfully entered Gaza in January and October 2010, also a number of our members have participated on Miles of Smiles convoys. On this convoy there will be 80 participants fromdifferent professional fields.
You mentioned Miles of Smiles who have become a role model for civil society convoys in the region. Is this model what the Jordanian Lifeline Committee will be structuring their future convoys on including this one?
Yes Miles of Smiles are very successful in organising civil society convoys directly from Cairo to Gaza and were the first of this model to arrive with emergency aid immediately after the 2008/9 war. They have successfully been sending convoys every couple of months since the change in Government in Egypt, so are very efficient in turnaround time with no extensive lead up.
They coordinate directly with organisations and committees in Gaza and only take aid that has been specified as high priority OR funding development projects that Gaza have defined and are asking for support with.
Aid is purchased in the region therefore is in Arabic which is very important on any specialised equipment instructions and medicines etc. In addition vehicles purchased are left hand drive, low mileage if not new with replacement parts being more readily accessible from Cairo.
As this is the most direct route to Rafah, ensures that the cost of transfer is kept to a minimum, which from Jordan the cost is also low.
Anyone joining the Ansar convoys contributes JD 3000 (4500 USD) to participate, 100% of this contribution goes directly into aid or the projects. Every participant is required to pay for his/her own personal costs including accommodation and all costs within Gaza.
This operating model (MoS) is favoured by Gaza and so we have adopted this with the exception of the route. We have consulted with the relevant organisations and committees in Gaza and will be taking aid they have requested and will be supporting their development projects. The same participation funding model is in place which we previously adopted on past Lifeline convoys.
Viva Palestina made the decision to take the more costly route from London to Gaza when as Miles of Smiles International convoys have proven these can go direct from Cairo to Gaza, in addition their decision to travel through Syria is receiving a lot of criticism.
Their intention to travel through Syria was clear when they relaunched VPA6 this year by including the costs of the ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba on their website.
So was there any discussion from Viva Palestina to join the Ansar II convoy given they were planning to travel through Syria into Jordan?
Yes Viva Palestina did approach us but only last week asking if they could join the Ansar convoy. As we explained to Mr Kevin Ovenden we have already arranged the logistics of our convoy which included sending detailed information to the Jordanian and Egyptian authorities so this unfortunately will not be possible.
Although their convoy is very small it does include about 12 vehicles which as we explained to them we have an arrangement with the authorities not to take vehicles across to Nuweiba and we will not break or jeopardise this arrangement.
So Viva Palestina may have issues as they are bringing vehicles into Jordan without arrangements with Egyptian authorities which may result in a repeat of 2009/10 and their convoy returning to Syria to seek passage by ship to El Arish which will be a very expensive convoy for 12 vehicles.
In addition, events in Syria is a very important matter on the public agenda in Jordan and the convoy travelling through Syria would be regarded by the majority of the Jordanian population as cooperation with the Syrian regime, legitimising crimes committed against its people.
This situation would complicate cooperation with any convoy that might be regarded as helping or being close to the Syrian regime. This is particularly important for the Jordanian Lifeline Committee that aims to break the siege on Gaza and support the resistance of the Palestinian people and so do not wish to be involved in any political conflicts in the region in any form.
Lifeline truck from prior convoy to Gaza
Lifeline members from prior convoy to Gaza