A UK shipment of nearly 100 tonnes of aid has left Cyprus bound for a new temporary pier in Gaza, the British Foreign Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, US army vessel USAV JAMES LOUX departed from Larnaca port on the same day with its own shipment of humanitarian assistance.

Marine traffic platform shows the vessel is travelling with 9.6 knots and is estimated to reach Gaza in 18 hours.

“We are leading international efforts with the US and Cyprus to establish a maritime aid corridor,” the UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

“Today’s first shipment of British aid from Cyprus to the temporary pier off Gaza is an important moment in increasing this flow.”

The shipment comprised of 8,400 shelter coverage kits: temporary shelters made up of plastic sheeting.

Britain said the pier would allow the delivery of an estimated 90 truckloads of international aid into Gaza each day, potentially rising to 150 truckloads a day once fully operational.

The UK’s Foreign Minister David Cameron underlined: “This pier will play a vital role in getting aid to those who need it in Gaza, but it must be accompanied by an increase in aid delivered through land routes. Israel’s commitments to increase access are welcome but we need to see more aid making it over the borders.

US Ambassador to Cyprus Julie Fisher posted on X that the US and Cyprus are united in ensuring life-saving aid reaches those in need. She noted that the two countries are partnering with the UN and other nations to implement this complex maritime humanitarian mission, in the framework of Nicosia’s Amalthea initiative.

International organisations have said that Gaza faces a severe humanitarian crisis threatening a population of more than 2 million people.

Earlier in the day, US officials said hundreds of tons of aid are ready to be dispatched to Gaza through the maritime humanitarian corridor as it thanked Cyprus’ leadership for its efforts.

In a press conference US Agency for International Development Response director Dan Dieckhaus and vice admiral Brad Cooper, deputy commander of the US Central Command sought to assuage concerns that the corridor may be used to displace Palestinians from Gaza.

They specified the temporary pier will be fixed to the Gaza shore in the coming days and aid delivery will begin.

“Today we have hundreds of tons of aid ready for delivery and thousands of tons of aid in the pipeline…We are seeing significant volumes of aid flowing into Cyprus for further distribution and we expect this flow will continue as more international donors contribute.”

The officials said the Israeli government has been “highly supportive” of this overall effort, specifying that the concept of the corridor has been discussed with the Palestinian Authority too.

“Our understanding is that there’s general support.”

Explaining the logistics behind the corridor, they highlighted that Cyprus receives aid via air or sea and it is screened, palletised and prepared.

“We have two coordination cells in place, one in Cyprus and one in Israel. For weeks we’ve been working side by side with the USAID team, Cypriots, Israelis and the UN to support the planning effort to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance in Gaza.”

The officials stressed that US troops will not be on Gaza’s soil, stressing that “the temporary pier is built for the express purpose of delivering humanitarian aid to help the people of Gaza.”

“Cyprus is helping coordinating, getting everyone on the same page, on the same schedule.”

Addressing concerns of looting, the US officials said they are monitoring the situation and called on all parties not to interfere with the delivery of life-saving assistance intended for the people of Gaza.

“I’d simply like to add my thanks to the Cypriot government for their leadership and supporting this entire operation. It would not be possible without them.”