The first UK maritime shipment of aid for Gaza has arrived in Egypt, carrying almost 90 tonnes of thermal blankets and other essential items.

The lifesaving shipment was delivered from Cyprus by Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Lyme Bay, carrying thermal blankets, shelter packs and medical supplies provided by the UK and the Republic of Cyprus. From Port Said, the aid will be received by the Egyptian Red Crescent and will make its way to Al Arish and then through Rafah and into Gaza for distribution by UNRWA.

It follows a visit to Egypt from the Foreign Secretary to Al Arish last month to meet with representatives from the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, who are coordinating the relief effort at the Rafah crossing, and the Defence Secretary’s visit to Cyprus and Israel to push for accelerated aid deliveries into Gaza.

The Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary have made clear that Israel must increase the flow of aid into Gaza and facilitate the delivery of relief on the ground, including through negotiated humanitarian pauses.

The UK will continue to explore other routes for aid deliveries, including the Cypriot initiative for a maritime corridor between Cyprus and Israel/OPTs and supporting United Nations World Food Programme through the humanitarian land corridor from Jordan through Kerem Shalom.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “RFA Lyme Bay has docked in Egypt with almost 90 tonnes of aid bound for civilians in Gaza. This includes shelters for winter, medical supplies and thermal blankets – all pre-screened in Cyprus. By testing new maritime routes, the UK is paving the way for other international donors to increase and accelerate aid deliveries.”

The UK has so far announced it will spend almost £60 million in additional humanitarian funding in Gaza this financial year, trebling our existing annual budget to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The most recent package of £30 million funding, announced by the Foreign Secretary on his last visit to the region, has been allocated to trusted partners on the ground including UNRWA, UNICEF, WFP, the OCHA Pooled Fund, and the British Red Cross to support the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescent Societies.

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