The departure of two ships under the flag of Guinea-Bissau, ostensibly in response to pressure from Israel, has caused a further delay in the “Freedom Flotilla,” which was scheduled to depart Turkiye with the goal of sending essential relief to the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition, a group of non-governmental organizations and groups working to provide supplies to Gaza, claims that because Guinea-Bissau, a country in West Africa, removed its two flagged vessels from the flotilla, the convoy of vessels was unable to sail over the past few days.

“The Guinea-Bissau International Ships Registry (GBISR), in a blatantly political move, informed the Freedom Flotilla Coalition that it had withdrawn the Guinea-Bissau flag from two of the Freedom Flotilla’s ships, one of which is our cargo ship, already loaded with over 5,000 tons of life-saving aid,” the Coalition revealed over the weekend.

The move came after authorities in Guinea-Bissau had been making several “extraordinary” requests for advanced information, including destinations, estimated arrival dates and times, cargo manifest and potential additional port calls.

“Normally, national flagging authorities concern themselves only with safety and related standards on vessels bearing their flag,” the Coalition said.

The reason for the withdrawal of the vessels and subsequent delay of the flotilla’s schedule is directly a result of pressure from Israel and the United States, according to the flotilla’s organisers.

“Sadly, Guinea-Bissau has allowed itself to become complicit in Israel’s deliberate starvation, illegal siege and genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,” they said.