Humanitarian Aid in Gaza
Paris, January 6 2009
France is extremely concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
At the request of Bernard Kouchner, the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs decided to provide €3 million in emergency aid to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
- €1 million will be earmarked to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA),
- €1 million to the World Food Programme (WFP),
- €1 million to local NGOs, particularly the Palestinian Medical Relief Society which has a real operational capacity in Gaza, and the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights organization, as well as French NGOs on the ground which are meeting today again with the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs.
On 30 December, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs held an initial meeting with NGOs on the ground. Interministerial coordination was also set up with a view to organizing humanitarian aid that French authorities can provide Gaza. EU foreign ministers decided on that same day that they agreed “to coordinate aid donated by each Member State, in collaboration with the European Commission and the outgoing and incoming presidencies”. To this end, the Crisis Management Unit of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is monitoring the situation in liaison with its Czech counterpart and the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) to assess the needs of Gaza’s population and determine how to address them.
Everything must be done to ensure that international humanitarian law is complied with and to help humanitarian organizations overcome the obstacles they come up against so that they can provide their aid:
- First and foremost, the population must be able to safely access humanitarian goods and services,
- Humanitarian workers must be able to enter and travel in the Gaza Strip,
- It must be possible to transport amounts of aid, especially food, in the Gaza Strip, helping to meet all needs.
The worsening situation makes it all the more urgent to establish, as the European Union requested at its foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris on 30 December, a humanitarian truce and open crossing points to humanitarian workers and goods so that all necessary aid can reach the populations.