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NICOSIA: A Spanish charity ship taking 200 tonnes of humanitarian food aid to war-ravaged Gaza set sail from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on Tuesday, aiming to pioneer a “maritime corridor”.

A second ship was being readied to soon make the same journey to help besieged Palestinians, Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos told state radio. The Spanish non-government group Open Arms told AFP that its ship, with a barge in tow, started the almost 400 kilometre (250 mile) voyage from the port of Larnaca around 0650 GMT.

“They have left,” said spokeswoman Laura Lanuza, but the group did not specify where and when the vessel was expected to arrive, for security reasons.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who days ago announced the initiative on a Cyprus visit, hailed it as a “sign of hope”.

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