EU's Ursula von der Leyen hopes humanitarian aid corridor from Cyprus to Gaza opens Sunday

Palestine

Published: 2024-03-08 16:15

Last Updated: 2024-05-22 08:35


Palestinians carry some of their personal belongings as they leave Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians carry some of their personal belongings as they leave Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed hopes Friday that a humanitarian aid corridor from Cyprus to Gaza will open this weekend, amid fears of famine in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

"We are very close to opening this corridor, hopefully this Sunday," von der Leyen said following a visit to the Cypriot port of Larnaca with Cyprus's President Nikos Christodoulides.

Her announcement came after US President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union address on Thursday, said the US military would establish a temporary port off Gaza's coast to bring in aid.

Senior US administration officials said the effort announced by Biden builds upon the maritime aid corridor proposed by Cyprus — the closest European Union member to Gaza.

Von der Leyen described the situation in Gaza as "dire... and we face a humanitarian catastrophe".

She said "an initial pilot operation" would be launched on Friday, and the United Arab Emirates had helped activate the corridor "by securing the first of many shipments of goods to the people of Gaza".

The European Commission issued a joint statement with Cyprus, the UAE, United States and United Kingdom "endorsing the activation" of the maritime aid corridor to Gaza.

"The delivery of humanitarian assistance directly to Gaza by sea will be complex, and our nations will continue to assess and adjust our efforts to ensure we deliver aid as effectively as possible," the statement said.

"This maritime corridor can — and must — be part of a sustained effort to increase the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial commodities into Gaza through all possible routes."

The statement added that Cyprus "will soon convene senior officials to discuss how we can accelerate this maritime channel".