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Gaza: Kaag Working Closely With Partners On New Maritime Aid Lifeline

An international maritime aid corridor to Gaza could be in operation as early as Sunday, according to the head of the European Commission, working closely with the UN’s Senior Humanitarian Coordinator and other international partners.

In a joint statement released on Friday, the Commission, Cyprus, United Arab Emirates, United States and the United Kingdom announced their intent to open a new corridor in coordination with the UN’s Sigrid Kaag.

The UN coordinator has a mandate from the Security Council to facilitate, boost and monitor the arrival of aid to more than two million Gazans in need. A technical team from her office is now based in Cyprus, whose government has led the development of the new mechanism to ship aid from the Mediterranean island to Gaza.

The joint release said that “the dedicated efforts of the UAE to mobilize support for the initiative” would soon see an initial trial shipment make its way to the Gaza coast. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it could happen as early as this weekend.

US pier pledge

The Cypriot Government said it would soon convene senior officials to discuss accelerating the new sea route, acknowledging the US announcement on Thursday night from President Joe Biden of a new temporary pier for distributing aid on the Gaza coast. All these efforts “will be closely coordinated with the Government of Israel,” said the statement.

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Taking questions from correspondents in New York, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said Ms. Kaag had been in close contact with Cyprus “and she's been involved in discussions on the initiative as an additional access route to Gaza, in line with her mandate".

The operational details of the specific maritime shipments or the building of the dock or of the port are being managed by the partners to the initiative, he added.

Questioned about the potential effectiveness of the US plan and maritime aid routes, Mr. Dujarric said there was “no alternative to a larger scale deployment of aid by land” and commercial traffic, although aid entering by other means was welcome.

The international coalition planning the maritime corridor said that the delivery of assistance to those who need it in Gaza by sea “will be complex” and must be part of a sustained effort to increase the flow of aid and commercial goods “through all possible routes”.

“Together, we must all do more to ensure aid gets to people who desperately need it,” the statement concluded.

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