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Gaza: Overseas Aid

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of unplanned financial expenditure incurred by his Department and its implementing agencies in providing assistance to Gaza since the imposition of access restrictions from June 2007. (202316)

The Department for International Development (DFID) provides its humanitarian assistance through partner agencies such as the UN Relief Works Agency and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The UK also makes a substantial contribution to the World Food Programme's central budget. For these implementing agencies, the partial closure of Gaza's crossings has significantly increased the time and costs involved in importing humanitarian supplies into Gaza. Verified estimates are unavailable, although the World Food Programme has calculated that additional costs created by Israel's food clearance procedures will reach $6 million over the two years from September 2007 to August 2009. As the situation deteriorates, we expect these costs to rise.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the Government or their implementing agencies have faced delays in importing humanitarian items into Gaza in the last 12 months. (202317)

Movement and access restrictions are constricting the flow of urgent humanitarian goods and staff, as well as increasing the cost of humanitarian transfers. The frequency and size of those transfers that do make it into Gaza are insufficient to meet the humanitarian needs of the population.

The UK continues its diplomatic efforts to ease the situation and we condemn the violence from both sides. DFID is considering support for a UN access cell to facilitate the access of humanitarian staff and goods through the crossing.