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Gaza: Politics and Government

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of (a) the humanitarian situation in Gaza and (b) the effectiveness of the international community's policies to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza over the last two years. (199670)

The UK Government are extremely concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza. 64 per cent. of Gaza’s population is at least partly dependent on food aid and 90 per cent. of mains water is polluted. Access through crossings between Gaza and Israel remains restricted although limited deliveries of emergency food aid, medicines and commercial items have been allowed in. However, the size and frequency of these deliveries are insufficient to meet the broader needs of the population.

The problem is not a lack of support from the international community, rather the continued restrictions on access to Gaza.

The European Commission (EC) created the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) in 2006. Before the TIM was subsumed into the new PEGASE mechanism in March 2007, the EC and European Union members provided €455 million (£361 million) of funding through it. The TIM was a successful emergency assistance mechanism and PEGASE will continue to provide an effective means of supporting essential services and the livelihoods of key, frontline workers. Further international community support over the past two years has been channelled through UN agencies and NGOs providing humanitarian assistance and supporting basic services.

In response to restrictions on imports into Gaza the UK and others have consistently encouraged the Government of Israel to facilitate the provision of humanitarian support. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I released a statement to this effect on 8 February and we continue to raise the matter with the Israeli authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether funding for public sector salaries and the maintenance of basic services in Gaza is being provided by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank; and what contribution is being made from the UK aid budget. (200123)

The Palestinian Authority provides funding for basic services such as health and education in Gaza, paying the salaries of public sector workers. During 2007-08, the UK contributed £38.45 million for Palestinian Authority services and employees in both Gaza and the West Bank through the Temporary International Mechanism, PEGASE and the new World Bank Reform Trust Fund.