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Palestinians: International Assistance

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his most recent assessment is of the humanitarian situation in Gaza; what continued financial contribution the UK plans to make; and if he will urge the international community to make a substantial contribution to deal with the humanitarian situation in the region. (253933)

The Department for International Development (DFID) is extremely concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The United Nations estimates that over 90 per cent. of Gaza's population is at least partly dependent on food aid and one fifth of people have no access to running water. Access through crossings between Gaza and Israel remains severely restricted although some deliveries of emergency food aid, medicines and medical supplies have been allowed in but is not adequate to fully meet the needs of the population. The UK continues to urge Israel to immediately allow full and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies so supplies can get in.

The UK Government have made an additional pledge of up to £26.8 million to help meet immediate humanitarian needs in Gaza. Of this over £12 million has already been allocated. For the remaining funds, we are prioritising support to those agencies well placed to respond to immediate humanitarian assistance and protection needs. The UK will continue to meet needs through our five year £100 million commitment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. We also provide funding through the European Community's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) which has allocated €3 million for urgent humanitarian relief work in Gaza, of which the UK contributes about 16 per cent. (€482,000).

We are in contact with other Governments on ensuring that the contributions made by the international community are adequate to meet humanitarian needs in Gaza. The continued restrictions on access into Gaza for humanitarian supplies are a serious problem that must be dealt with so that humanitarian assistance can reach those who need it.