Friday, July 14, 2006

EU Provides emergency assistance to besieged Palestinians

EU Provides Euro 50 Million Emergency Humanitarian Aid for Palestinians

WASHINGTON, July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the worsening situation in the Palestinian Territories, the European Commission has announced plans to provide a further euro 50 million in humanitarian aid to allow for a more forceful and comprehensive response to the growing needs of the Palestinians. Areas to be covered include food delivery, healthcare, water/sanitation and Red Cross protection activities. The new funds are being channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), under the responsibility of Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.

Louis Michel said: "I strongly condemn the escalating violence in the region and deplore the ever-worsening humanitarian situation of people living in Gaza and the West Bank. Once again, civilians are paying the price of conflict. They are the main casualties of the Israeli blockades and incursions in Gaza, and now in Lebanon. Movement restrictions are also making it very difficult for humanitarian operators to help the people that most need it. I strongly urge both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to facilitate the work of the humanitarian agencies and ensure the protection of civilians."

The latest funding package will help to meet the vital needs of around 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Activities to be undertaken by the Commission's humanitarian partners include:

-- Food distribution: Food will be distributed to an estimated 500,000 people until the end of this year by Commission humanitarian partners such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and CARE.

-- Health: The UN's World Health Organisation (WHO), CARE, MERLIN are potential partners for the provision of basic health services.

-- Water and sanitation: NGOs such as CARE and OXFAM will ensure water supplies for the most vulnerable communities as soon as possible.

-- Protection: As the population is increasingly exposed to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, the Commission will fund protection activities implemented by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).These funds are in addition to the euro 34 million announced last week from the Commission's regular humanitarian budget and the euro 105 million channelled through the Temporary International Mechanism for the direct delivery of basic needs assistance to the Palestinian people and a euro 120 million package of aid announced in February.

For further information, please visit: Delegation of the European Commission to the U.S.

CONTACT: Anthony Gooch, +1-202-862-9523, or Kasper Zeuthen,+1-202-862-9530, both of Delegation of the European Commission to the U.SWeb site: