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Gaza

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take steps to enable $93 million, currently held by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, to be spent on capital programmes and reconstruction in Gaza, as originally intended. [HL1080]

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reported prior to the recent conflict in Gaza that UNRWA infrastructure projects in Gaza valued at $93 million had been halted due to a lack of raw materials as a result of the closure of the border crossings.

Following the conflict the immediate priority for the UK Government has been to press for full and unhindered access for humanitarian personnel and supplies. These supplies include materials essential for the repair of humanitarian infrastructure, such as water and sanitation facilities. This issue has been raised repeatedly with the Israeli authorities at the highest levels.

The World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and European Community (EC) will take the lead in co-ordinating international efforts on reconstruction. A needs assessment is planned which is expected to report in three months. The UK Government will work closely with international partners to ensure that the goods required for reconstruction are able to enter Gaza.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the access granted to humanitarian agencies in Gaza. [HL1083]

The recent hostilities brought about almost complete closure of the crossings into Gaza and made it very dangerous for aid staff to operate, and for aid recipients to access aid at distribution centres. The ceasefire and IDF withdrawal has improved access to the Gaza Strip and security within it for humanitarian agencies, but still not nearly enough humanitarian supplies are getting in. Humanitarian personnel are also facing ongoing difficulties entering Gaza.

Formal reports from the UN will be key in outlining in detail the challenges it and other organisations face. The UK Government continue to raise concerns with the Government of Israel and other partners.