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British aid to Gaza in Cyprus ‘ready to go’

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The UK has 82 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in Cyprus “ready to go”, along with five tonnes of medical equipment,  Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Andrew Mitchell told the House of Commons this week.

“As soon as there is the possibility of getting more aid and support into Gaza, we will be using those supplies to do exactly that.”

On Thursday, reports highlighted that discussions over the British bases in Cyprus have increased in the last two days, in light of the war raging in the Middle East.

“We are actively exploring other routes [to send humanitarian aid to Gaza] including by sea,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Former labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has raised the question of what the Royal Air Force planes leaving the British bases in Akrotiri, Cyprus flying into Israel actually contain, amid scores of reports that the bases were used to supply military aid for Israel’s war on Gaza.

Another Labour MP John McDonnell added that these aircraft could possibly be carrying cargo used in the bombing of Gaza and the loss of life.

On Wednesday, the British High Commission in Nicosia sought to assuage the rumours, saying the RAF has transported no “lethal cargo” to the Israeli Defence Forces. The term itself was undefined.

In the same vein, MP for the Scottish Alba party Kenny McCaskill commented: “If we are facilitating the supply of arms to Israel by Americans flying from the Akrotiri bases, that is simply unacceptable and we are complicit.

“Not only does the Republic of Cyprus have a right to know what is happening on a sovereign British base, but so do the citizens of the United Kingdom. We need to know that there is no complicity here,” he said.

Last week, UK armed forces minister James Heappey told parliament that “as a trusted partner, the Ministry of Defence routinely engages with the Republic of Cyprus on issues relating to the Sovereign Base Areas.”

He added: “This includes, where appropriate, informing the Republic of Cyprus of flights into and from RAF Akrotiri, although there is no formal requirement to do so.”

 

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