On 19 June my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Hilary Benn), the former Secretary of State for International Development, announced a contribution of £1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for immediate humanitarian needs in Gaza and the West Bank. ICRC has delivered medical supplies, repatriated bodies, evacuated medical cases and helped the Palestinian Red Crescent to deliver blood supplies in Gaza. It has also helped the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to deliver food aid.
UNRWA provides food aid to 850,000 Palestinian refugees in Gaza, along with other essential services. With ICRC, UNRWA is assisting the 250 people trapped at the Erez crossing. DFID has provided £15.6 million through UNRWA this year for its operations in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), the European Union is providing fuel to ensure the continued operation of electricity, water and sanitation services in Gaza, supporting front line health services and providing allowances for Government workers, pensioners and other needy Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. DFID has provided £15 million through the TIM so far.
The European Community (EC) is providing €9.8 million through the World Health Organisation, €6 million for UNRWA’s food programme, and €9 million through the World Food Programme for the West Bank and Gaza. This is in addition to the European Community’s contribution to UNRWA’s core fund of €66 million this year. The UK contributes about 17 per cent. of EC assistance.
The key humanitarian issue in Gaza at this time is access. 104 containers of UNRWA supplies await transit to Gaza through the Kami crossing. Without regular and reliable access for aid supplies and privately traded goods it will not be possible for Gaza’s 1.3 million people to meet their basic needs.
Figures for DFID support to the Palestinian people since 1995 are as follows:
£ 2006-07 30,211,000 2005-06 30,043,000 2004-05 34,794,000 2003-04 40,487,000 2002-03 33,873,000 2001-02 38,737,000 2000-01 26,764,000 1999-2000 20,727,000 1998-99 8,516,000 1997-98 16,133,000 1996-97 14,288,000 1995-96 10,147,000
These figures include contributions through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which supports Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.