14th June 2009
Viva Palestina UK Convoy Update
One of the most common questions we're being asked is how long the convoy will take.
The trip this time – via Europe, Syria, and Jordan before crossing over to Egypt – will definitely be shorter than last time. Did you know that Gaza is actually only 2225 miles in a straight line from London? Of course, roads and ferries mean that the actual distance we drive will be different — more like 300 miles. This is still less than the last convoy.
How Long will it take?
The convoy will take approximately 3 weeks from start to finish. This will include time in Gaza
A very accurate idea of how many miles we will be realistically able to cover each day, and where we will have the option to fuel and to stop, will be possible this time, because we have two convoyers – John Hurson from Ireland and Reza Yunis from Birmingham – who are going to drive the route as a trial later this month.
Convoy application form
We will shortly be launching the application form for the convoy! In the same way that the US convoy has done, we will make it available as an online form on the website. This will be very much more straightforward for us to process than the jumble of written forms that were all we had time for last time. It is absolutely essential that everybody coming on the convoy fills in this form, and agrees to the code of conduct, which includes a promise to attend a training session before the convoy. These will be around the UK, and spread over several dates before the convoy so there should be enough opportunities for everyone to get to one.
We will be asking everyone for a small fee to help us make this work smoothly, and to make it clear that the application form is a serious commitment to take part. If for any reason we are unable to accommodate you on the convoy relating to visas, safety, or inability to attend a training session, for example), this fee will be considered a donation to the convoy.
Your details will be passed to the closest regional group which will then be in touch with you regarding the training sessions once they become available.
Vehicles and Aid
It is likely that we will, once again, be told that only medical equipment is to be allowed through the border. We will be pushing to change this to allow other things such as toys, computers, and construction equipment to get through, but medical and sanitary equipment remain the priority and we would ask you to focus on collecting these.
To this end, the most useful vehicles remain ambulances – including if possible some four-wheel drive ones – and also minibuses suitable for use as light-casualty ambulances and/or school buses for example.
We would also like to have some refrigerated vehicles (preferably van- size) to enable the transportation of some of the medical supplies that need to be kept chilled.
Another novel suggestion is that we could take one or two fish-and- chip vans (or similar): not only would this help to attract publicity, but they could be used to cook for us on the journey! More practically, they would be useable as a business in Gaza.
We hope to have our website revamped very soon and you will be able to find a list of organisations that could be twinned with. These aren't limited to schools and hospitals — it would also be wonderful to see small businesses twinned. For example, simply a photograph of a British kebab shop inside a Gazan one is a reminder to all their customers that people care. And of course in the UK it's another way to catch the attention of more and more members of the public.
Irish Free Gaza Coordinator
091 472279/085 7747257