LONDON, May 16 — The UK’s first aid delivery to a US-built pier in Gaza left Cyprus yesterday, the foreign office in London said, adding that it would be distributed “as soon as feasible”.

The shipment includes nearly 100 tonnes of temporary shelter kits and is the first part of a £2 million (RM11.9 million) package of UK aid to be delivered from the Mediterranean island.

The Pentagon had said on Tuesday that the pier would be operational in the “coming days”, after being delayed by a week due to bad weather.

With a cost of at least US$320 million (RM1.5 billion), the temporary pier is aimed at boosting humanitarian access to Gaza, which has been ravaged by over seven months of war between Israel and Hamas.

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The pier will initially facilitate the delivery of 90 truckloads of international aid a day into Gaza, rising to up to 150 truckloads once fully operational, according to US estimates.

The UK government has pledged a £9.7-million aid package for Gaza, which faces dire shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine, and has been taking part in airdrops.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the first shipment was an “important moment” in increasing the flow of aid, promising to “continue efforts to unlock more routes to get vital aid in”.

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Foreign Secretary David Cameron also called on Israel to open more land crossings for longer and “fully open” its Ashdod port for aid deliveries.

Land deliveries of aid have suffered as the Rafah border crossing has been blocked since last week, when Israeli forces took control of it.

Plans for the pier were first announced by US President Joe Biden in early March as Israel held up deliveries of aid by ground.

Under the plans, supplies will be transported out of Cyprus on commercial vessels to a floating platform also built by the US military off the Gaza coast.

Aid will then be transferred to smaller vessels and brought to the pier on the Gaza coast and taken to land by truck for distribution.

A British ship was also used to house hundreds of US troops building the pier. — AFP