The Bristol contingent of the Viva Palestina Convoy left Bristol on Friday 4th December. MPs, City Councillors, Trade Unions and supporters spoke at a rally in the town centre, followed by a parade across the city led by musicians & marchers with placards. The convoy finally left the City after prayers at one of the city Mosques.
Cllr Barbara Janke, Leader of Bristol City Council said: "I visited Gaza myself in 1987 and was appalled by the conditions people were living under, particularly children. From everything I have read since, I know things are even worse there today. I think it’s tremendous that people in Bristol have committed themselves to a humanitarian mission of this kind. I’m very impressed by the courage and commitment of those taking part and pray for their success and safety."
Dr. Chris Burns-Cox, Emeritus Consultant Physician at Frenchay Hospital, who has visited Gaza several times explained at the rally “Even before this year’s massacre and onslaught the people in dire need of the basics for life. I have seen children with amputations, mothers distraught at being unable to look after their children, young men paralysed from bullets through the neck and fathers distraught, unable to earn money to support their families. Even if our Government does nothing to help the people of Gaza the people of Bristol will help ease the suffering.”
They were joined by other City Councillors MPs and Trade Union speakers. Tony Benn and Ken Loach also sent messages of support
The Bristol contingent of the Viva Palestina Convoy has been assembled over just the last few weeks. It was led by a massive 44 ton truck packed with humanitarian aid, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals which have been donated from across Bristol and the South West. It was also followed by FIVE vans/minibuses. Travelling with the convoy was a team of TEN people with specialist skills. These including drivers, translators, an artist, a mental health nurse, an engineer, an IT specialist, and a documentary film-maker. They were joined by an ambulance from Country Cork in Ireland which is also on its way to the assembly point in London this weekend.
Over £20,000 has been collected for the convoy throughout Bristol. However money is still needed which will be used for fuel & transport costs on the journey plus final medical purchases before crossing into Gaza.
Sakir Yildirim, driver of the 44 ton truck says “The people of Bristol are magnificent, they have made this happen. But we’re still short of money to fill up the massive fuel tanks of our truck. Not only to get us across Europe but also we want them to be filled up again before we cross into Gaza where supplies are in desperately short supply due to the blockade.”