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EU Aid To War-Torn Gaza

  • March 3rd, 2009
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

gaza-1-virtualactivismnet.jpgThe European Union has contributed $554 million to help rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip.

European, US and Arab donors met at a conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt on Monday (2.3.09), pulling together a €3.6 billion (AU$7.1 billion, dcerates.com, 3.3.09) assistance package…

WORLD LEADERS UNITE

World leaders called for Israel’s coastal blockade to be lifted, which has so far prevented vital aid from reaching Gaza’s estimated 1.4 million inhabitants.

They also emphasised that financial aid must not fall to the Islamist group Hamas, which currently rules Gaza.

“The status quo is of benefit to all the extremism. It is time for us to speed up the agenda,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the conference.

Germany will pledge an extra $126 million in addition to its existing donation to the EU aid package.

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, asked for $2.8 billion; half of which would go towards the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after Israel’s offensive in late December and January.

However, there were some questions being asked of the effectiveness of the package by the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.

“We are confronted with a serious dilemma. Will we once again reconstruct something we built a few years ago and now has been hammered and flattened?

“Many donors, despite pledges, will wish to see political progress before they commit to infrastructure reconstruction,” the Norwegian Foreign Minister said.

Ministers from some 80 countries attended the conference; taking in also representatives of the United Nations, the African Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Map of countries giving emergency aid to Gaza in 2009

Emergency aid to Gaza in 2009.PNG

ISRAEL NOT PRESENT

Neither Israel nor Hamas was present at the conference.

Israel said it backed aid to Palestinians in Gaza, but wanted officials to guarantee aid money would not go to Hamas militants.

“We definitely don’t want to see the goodwill of the international community exploited by Hamas and serve Hamas’ extremist purposes,” said a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Over 1,300 Palestinians were killed and thousands of government buildings and homes were destroyed during the Israeli Gaza offensive (see EUAustralia, 01-22.01.09, ‘Gaza: Horror Of War’, ‘Gaza Fighting’, ‘Gaza School Hit As Death Toll Rises’ and ‘Israel Pulls Out Of Gaza’).

Thirteen Israelis were also killed in attacks by Hamas militants.

Reference:

Deutsche Welle, ‘World Pledges Billions for Gaza Reconstruction’ (2.3.09), http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4066898,00.html, (3.3.09).

Czech Presidency of the European Union, ‘The Donors Conference for Gaza’ (2.3.09), http://www.eu2009.cz/event/1/3281/, (3.3.09).

Picture:

wikimedia.org

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