First aid ship reaches Gaza amid new efforts to step up relief to besieged enclave

The first aid ship carrying much-needed food has reached the shoreline of central Gaza as part of new efforts to ease a humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave.

Workers have been unpacking the 200 tons of food aid on smaller boats off the shore of the Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Ajleen, according to a journalist on the scene who works for CNN.

The initiative is led by the non-profit World Central Kitchen (WCK) and the ship is run the Spanish charity Open Arms.

The ship is carrying 500,000 meals that WCK will distribute in war-ravaged Gaza – where hundreds of thousands of the enclave’s 2 million people are on the brink of famine.

This is the first batch of aid Gaza has received by sea since the war began, and is part of an international effort to step up relief to the besieged enclave.

States have recently been airdropping aid into Gaza, and now hope to launch a maritime corridor that will allow more ships to deliver food and supplies to the territory.

While the United Nations and aid groups have welcomed the meals, they have however warned that maritime or airdropped aid cannot replace aid delivered by land, which since October 7 has been increasingly restricted by Israel. Israel maintains that it is working to respond to the needs on the ground in Gaza,

In a joint statement, 25 non-governmental organizations called on states to prioritize a ceasefire and increased land-based aid deliveries, warning that maritime aid may set a dangerous precedent that undermines land routes and allows for prolonged hostilities.

Khadr Al-Za’anoun of Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, contributed to this report.

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