Turkish Red Crescent’s 9th aid vessel for Gaza sets sail - M5 Dergi
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Turkish Red Crescent’s 9th aid vessel for Gaza sets sail

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The ninth humanitarian aid ship organized by the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) departed for Gaza on Tuesday from the Port of Mersin in southern Türkiye.

The vessel, which is carrying 3,774 tons of aid, is due to arrive at the al-Arish port in Egypt in about 40 hours. The aid will then be transferred from the Egyptian port to Rafah, Gaza’s main border crossing with Egypt, where it will be delivered to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

The materials include food, flour, sleeping bags and infant hygiene kits, as well as 5,610 pieces and 700 kilograms (over 1,500 pounds) of gluten-free flour, noodles and cookies for celiac patients per the suggestion of a Turkish citizen, Turkish Red Crescent director Fatma Meriç Yılmaz said at the send-off ceremony.

“When our seventh ship arrived at the Rafah border crossing, we evacuated a Turkish citizen named Rukiye, who told us people there with gluten enteropathy had serious indigestion problems and got sick,” Yılmaz recalled.

“Rukiye mentioned there were 2,000-3,000 people with such a condition in Gaza and that the Palestinian Red Crescent could organize the deliveries should they receive gluten-free goods, which we have gathered as soon as we could,” Yılmaz said.

The Turkish Red Crescent, in cooperation with the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), has delivered nearly 40,000 tons of aid to Gaza through 13 airplanes and eight ships since the new round of the conflict began between Palestine and Israel.

The Turkish Red Crescent deployed its largest aid shipment of the year to besieged Gaza early in March in time for Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, delivering over 2,700 tons of aid, including food parcels containing ready-to-eat meals, water, food packages, flour, clothing, hygiene kits, shelter materials such as tents, sleeping bags and blankets, medical equipment and baby supplies.

The aid agency is coordinating with the Egyptian Red Crescent and the Palestinian Red Crescent to ensure that the aid trucks reach the needy recipients quickly.

In addition to distributing food packages within Gaza, the Turkish Red Crescent continues providing hot meals to 5,000 people daily by running a soup kitchen in Rafah, southern Gaza. During Ramadan, its staff on the ground handed out meals at sahur and iftar, and the sunrise and sunset meals for Ramadan eaten before and after the daily fast.

Türkiye, which has denounced Israel for its offensive in densely populated Gaza and called for an immediate cease-fire, has sent tens of thousands of humanitarian aid items there since the start of the conflict last year.

A general view of the Akdeniz ro-ro ship before its departure from Tuzla harbor, Istanbul, Türkiye, April 15, 2024. (EPA Photo)
A general view of the Akdeniz ro-ro ship before its departure from Tuzla harbor, Istanbul, Türkiye, April 15, 2024. (EPA Photo)

Another humanitarian aid ship prepared jointly by the independent Turkish aid agency Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) and the Kuwait Society for Relief departed from the Port of Mersin on Sunday.

The ship is carrying 907 tons and 502 kilograms of crucial supplies, including 394,944 units of ready-to-eat food, 10,000 units of 5-kilogram (11-pound) flour, 10,000 units of other food items, 650 tents of 24 square meters each, 2,000 beds, pillows, bed sheets and carpets, 3,994 blankets, 30,000 personal hygiene kits, 23,212 packages of baby diapers, 20,180 packages of sanitary pads, 17,378 packages of wet wipes, 4,369 packages of adult diapers, 10,397 packages of detergent and 11,449 packages of dishwashing detergent.

The latest initiative involves a flotilla named the “International Freedom Flotilla,” which aims to challenge Israel’s blockade on Gaza. The flotilla includes three ships – Anadolu (Anatolia), Akdeniz (Mediterranean) and Vicdan (Conscience) – and comprises volunteers and activists from 12 countries, including the United States, England and Sweden.

EPA reported that Akdeniz, laden with 5,500 tons of humanitarian aid and about 1,000 activists onboard, was to begin its journey toward Gaza on Monday. This marked the IHH’s second initiative to deliver direct assistance to the besieged enclave.

In May 2010, the IHH sent an aid vessel called Mavi Marmara to Gaza along with five other civilian ships of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” in an attempt to breach the Israeli blockade.

The ship was intercepted by the Israeli military in a deadly offshore raid in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Nine pro-Palestinian activists on board the aid ship were killed during the raid and a 10th died in 2014 after years in a coma.

The raid touched off a diplomatic crisis between Türkiye and Israel, whose relations have historically been rocky due to disputes over the Palestinian cause.

Source: DailySabah

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