Ships from Turkey with humanitarian aid for Gaza denied right to sail, flags removed

April 27, 2024

Ships with an aim to sail from Turkey to Gaza with humanitarian aid have been denied the right to sail, according to The Associated Press.

“On Thursday afternoon, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition was contacted by the Guinea Bissau International Ships Registry (GBISR), requesting an inspection of our lead ship – Akdenez,” the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, the group behind the ships, said in a Saturday press release.

“This was a highly unusual request as our ship had already passed all required inspections; nevertheless, we agreed,” the release continues. “The inspector arrived on Thursday evening. On Friday afternoon, before the inspection was completed, the GBISR, in a blatantly political move, informed the Freedom Flotilla Coalition that it had withdrawn the Guinea Bissau flag from two of the Freedom Flotilla’s ships, one of which is our cargo ship, already loaded with over 5000 tons of life-saving aid for the Palestinians of Gaza.”

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition also said in the release that “without a flag, we cannot sail” and accused Guinea-Bissau of being “complicit in Israel’s deliberate starvation, illegal siege and genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.”

Last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) confirmed to The Hill that it will work with the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) to get humanitarian aid to Gaza by way of the sea. 

“This is a complex operation that requires coordination between many partners, and our conversations are ongoing. Throughout Gaza, the safety and security of humanitarian actors is critical to the delivery of assistance, and we continue to advocate for measures that will give humanitarians greater assurances,” a USAID spokesperson said in a statement.

U.S. and WFP officials are working on how they can deliver aid to Palestinian civilians “in an independent, neutral, and impartial manner,” they added.