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Palestinian Basic Needs (Further Contribution)

Volume 450: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

I am gravely concerned about the latest increase in conflict between Fatah and Hamas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Such violence further damages the prospects for peace and worsens the humanitarian situation. I call on all parties to end the violence. The UK will work with the international community to do what we can to help the Palestinian people.

I wish to inform the House that the Government intend to make a further £3 million contribution to the temporary international mechanism for Palestinian basic needs. This is in addition to the £3 million for essential health supplies that I announced to the House in August and £3 million that I announced at the Stockholm donors’ conference for operation and maintenance of water, sanitation and electricity.

The situation in the Palestinian Territories remains very difficult. In Gaza many households continue to receive just 6 to 8 hours of electricity per day. Intermittent electricity supply is affecting all key services. Water supply and sanitation services remain limited, with severe implications for health. The Department for International Development will therefore provide £3 million through the temporary international mechanism for operation, maintenance and repair work to keep water, sanitation and electricity services running.

DFID will also provide a further £3 million, again through the temporary international mechanism, to contribute towards providing allowances to teachers and others among the poorest Palestinian Authority workers. Many of these people, including many front-line services providers, have not been paid salaries for six months.

The temporary international mechanism was launched on 16 June, following an original proposal by the UK. To date, it has provided over 1.8 million litres of fuel for water, sanitation, hospitals and primary health care centres in Gaza. Using funding from the European Community the temporary international mechanism has made payments to 11,900 health workers. Payments have also been paid to 51,500 of the poorest Government workers and 33,000 social hardship cases.

DFID has made up to £12 million available for assistance through the temporary international mechanism. This new commitment means that £9 million of these funds have been allocated and will shortly be fully spent meeting Palestinian basic needs. The remaining £3 million will be apportioned as needs arise.

The European Commission has established a team in Jerusalem to manage the implementation of the TIM. Along with several EU member states, we have seconded expertise to this team.