World Central Kitchen Loads Second Aid Shipment for Gaza

An aid worker helps load food cargo aboard a small freighter chartered by World Central Kitchen (WCK)
An aid worker helps load food cargo aboard a small freighter chartered by World Central Kitchen (WCK)

Published Mar 14, 2024 7:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

A tug-and-barge shipment of aid is approaching the shores of Gaza, bearing about 200 tonnes of much-needed food and other supplies, and a second shipment is now being packed aboard a small freighter. World Central Kitchen, the NGO behind the plan, acknowledges that it is a hail-Mary pass: no suitable receiving pier exists, and their team is still working to build one out of rubble as the tug nears its destination. 

"We have crews working 24-7 and we are really trying to build this 60-meter-long jetty that will allow us then successfully, if things go well, to start bringing in humanitarian aid in bigger quantities," WCK founder Jose Andres told NPR. "The necessity and the urgency are so great that the worst thing we can do is not try new ways."

The location of the destination is being kept secret for now; Gaza's security situation is precarious and there have been previous incidents of interference with aid convoys. 

Open Arms' trackline from Cyprus to Gaza (Pole Star)

The tug Open Arms appears to have encountered GPS disruption or spoofing during its voyage. As it transited south of Cyprus, its AIS position jumped from the Eastern Mediterranean to the center of Beirut International Airport. Similar patterns of "impossible" AIS movement have been detected in areas with suspected GPS jamming activity, like the Russian sector of the Black Sea.

A second, much larger aid shipment is already being loaded aboard a small freighter at the port of Larnaca, Cyprus. As with the first, the cargo is marked with the logo of the UAE's aid organization. 

Andres acknowledged that it would be far easier to deliver aid in the volume required if border restrictions on Gaza were lifted. However, there are substantial political obstacles to clear before achieving that goal, and Andres noted simply that "this is not happening and this is out of our control."

The Biden administration has reached a similar conclusion, and has launched a 1,000-man mission to build and operate a temporary landing pier on a beach in northern Gaza. A flotilla of U.S. Army landing ships is under way from Virginia to deliver the equipment, and the operation should be up and running within about 60 days.