Press Release from Tabruk, Libya – Road to Hope Aid Convoy
From Tabruk. Laura Stuart a London housewife and mother of 3 children wrote from Tabruk today, Road to Hope – Humanitarian Aid Convoy is now into our 10th day of waiting near the Egyptian border for our journey to Gaza to continue. We have been stalled at the Libyan/Egyptian border because we had believed our access to Egypt and Rafah was assured and our travel agreed with the Libyan Al Quds 5 convoy, it seems we have been let down by one of our Libyan organisers who is based in the U.K.
Laura Stuart was a member of the Viva Palestina convoy who passed through North Africa in February/March 2009. We have already travelled with an Al Quds convoy on that first convoy and we have a bond already with the Libyan drivers as we shared the hardships and difficulties of the journey with them, on that occasion there was no objection from Egypt and we were welcomed by the Egyptian Government who gave members of Viva Palestina and Al Quds a police escort and hospitality all the way from Al Saloum to Rafah.
Laura Stuart is one of 7 survivors present on the convoy of the Mavi Marmara attack by Israeli commandos which took place in international waters on the 31st May 2010 and which has been called a “war crime” and a “crime against humanity” by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission report published in September. Laura said “we owe it to those who lost their lives on the ship, the widows and 29 children who were orphaned by the attack, to continue the struggle to have the blockade of Gaza lifted completely and for all borders to be open for aid convoys”.
Now we have moved to Tabruk, we have received an amazing welcome from the local people here, who are stopping us on the streets and inviting us into their homes and restaurants for tea and food. All across the Muslim lands of North Africa we have been given the utmost protection and assistance from the King of Morocco instructing his police force to ensure our safe passage through Morocco followed by the amazing fact that Algeria and Morocco opened the border which is sealed for many years. If this border was thrown open to us after 15 years of closure then we wonder why can’t the Egyptian border not be opened to us as well? Algerian, Tunisian and Libyan police have escorted and protected our convoy and many local organisations have given us free food and accommodation. The support for the Palestinians and people of Gaza across North Africa from people at every level is overwhelming.
We are not wealthy people, we are humanitarians, people of conscience who came together to form a convoy taking aid to Gaza, now we are faced with the prospect of our only hope of reaching Gaza being to hire a ship for our vehicles and to pay for ourselves to fly to Al Arish. The cost of this was never reckoned into the cost of reaching Gaza. We also feel that although charities from Libya or elsewhere may offer to assist us financially that this money could be better spent directly on the people of Palestine rather than being spent on taking a ship to deliver what we can take by road. On the other hand we are steadfast in our determination to continue however much we may suffer from being separated from our families and loved ones, we recognise that our suffering is very minor compared to the struggle of daily life that the people of Palestine face. Some of our people have had to leave to fulfil work commitments but about 60 of us remain and reaching Gaza is our aim and we remain steadfast on that aim.