All the keys to Open Arms’ arrival in Gaza

Last Tuesday, March 12, the ship of the Spanish NGO Open Arms sets sail with the mandate to create a maritime humanitarian corridor for those affected in Gaza. The ship was in the port of Larnaca in Cyprus and although it was scheduled to leave at the weekend, delays detected Due to weather conditions and some minor technical issues.

For this mission, the Spanish NGO made sure to collaborate with World Central Kitchen, another non-profit organization dedicated to providing food and founded by famous Spanish chef José Andrés. The aim is to transport 200 tons of flour, rice and canned goods to alleviate the major humanitarian crisis that is affecting the region as a result of the disaster War with Israel.

A ship that is supposed to help

Open Arms Uno was inaugurated on June 8, 2022 in front of the Rambla de Mar in the port of Barcelona, ​​replacing the organization’s former flagship. This ship is ready for the mass rescue of immigrants drifting in the Mediterranean, a goal of the NGO that has led to various controversies such as blockades and sanctions by various governments.

The Open Arms Uno, built in Norway in 2000, was a gift from the president of the NGO Solidare and the Argentine filmmaker Enrique Piñeyro. The shipping company is 66 meters long, 15 meters wide and has a tonnage four times larger than the organization’s old humanitarian tug.

In addition, the Open Arms Uno has a 353 meter long deck suitable for helicopter landings in emergency and evacuation situations; four semi-rigid lifeboats, each with a capacity to safely transport up to 15 people in adverse conditions; and an onboard hospital equipped with 26 patient beds, advanced diagnostic equipment and fully customized operating rooms to treat a variety of medical emergencies.

According to the NGO itself The boat had space for around 300 people, a number that could be expanded to a thousand in an emergency.

Open Arms controversies

Controversial events occurred during the missions of the various Open Arms ships. For example, the Catalan authorities detained the ship in the port of Barcelona in 2019.

A month before this unforeseen event The ship arrived at the port of Algeciras carrying more than 300 immigrants who had been rescued off the coast of Libya a week earlier after Italy and Malta refused access to their ports. After a stopover in Barcelona and planning the departure for January 8, the port authorities prevented the departure on the grounds that the NGO was violating international regulations on sea rescue.

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In addition, since 2018, the NGO has had disagreements with the Italian government, which has already carried out some blockades. The longest of these occurred in August 2019, when then Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini flatly refused to allow hundreds of migrants rescued in connection with the crisis in Libya to set foot on Italian soil.

For 21 days the ship remained 500 meters from the Italian coast waiting to be accepted for disembarkation. Both Spain, France, Germany, Romania, Luxembourg and Portugal offered to take in the migrants from the Open Arms, but due to tensions between the various members of the European Commission, the Italian justice system annulled the decree that the Open Arms and other ships prevented people from boarding on humanitarian grounds from entering the country.

Last year, Italy once again showed its dissatisfaction with the NGO Imposition of an administrative embargo of 20 days and a fine of up to 10,000 euros. The reason was the disembarkation of 176 people, more than half of them unaccompanied minors.

The mission in Gaza

United Nations and various non-governmental organizations have denounced Israel’s extensive restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. The region is in a serious crisis due to the recent military offensive, which has sparked concerns about the looming threat of widespread famine and the collapse of the health system.

This 200 ton voyage is the first of one Operation called Amalthea (tenderness in Greek). The aim is for this humanitarian corridor between Cyprus and the Palestinian enclave to remain in constant movement. The journey from Cyprus to Gaza covers about 210 nautical miles (about 388 kilometers), which usually takes about 25 hours. However, it is estimated that the Open Arms will take approximately 50 hours to complete this particular journey.

Likewise, according to Open Arms, how it works It has the approval of the governments of Cyprus, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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