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Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos to raise key humanitarian issues in the West Bank and Gaza

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IP/11/569

Brussels, 13 May 2011

Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and Valerie Amos, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, are setting out on a four-day trip to the occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel. Between 14 and 17 of May, they will visit the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Commissioner Georgieva and Baroness Amos will gather first-hand information on the current humanitarian needs, and will reiterate the commitment of the European Union and UN OCHA to assist the most vulnerable Palestinians in their daily challenges. They will underline the need for improved humanitarian access to the people in need across the Gaza Strip, and the importance of respecting international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.

Ahead of her departure, Commissioner Georgieva stated: "While all eyes are set on the tremendous changes happening on the political scene with the Arab Spring and the inter-Palestinian reconciliation, we must not forget the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory. A large portion of the Palestinian population still lives in dire conditions and relies on external humanitarian assistance. The access to basic resources and services is restricted for many inhabitants of the West Bank, and even more so for those living in Gaza. Attention often focuses on the material dimension of the humanitarian crisis but less so on the psychological impact it has on the people living there, particularly on the children. During our visit to the region, Valerie Amos and I will engage with the relevant stakeholders to ensure not only the continuous provision of relief, but also of humanitarian access and protection to civilians, in line with international humanitarian principles and law. "

She added: "My best hope is that humanitarian aid quickly becomes superfluous as prospects for economic development and for peace turn into concrete reality. And the EU under the leadership of High Representative Catherine Ashton is working hard to make this happen. Until such a moment comes, it is our duty to continue to assist people in need and demonstrate European solidarity with them".

During their visit, the Commissioner and the Under-Secretary-General will meet and talk to representatives of the most vulnerable people in the conflict, particularly those living in the West Bank's area C, in East Jerusalem and in Gaza. They will also hold meetings with Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and high-level Israeli officials.

On the ground, Commissioner Georgieva and Under-Secretary-General Amos will visit displaced Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and humanitarian projects in Gaza. They meet with key humanitarian partners of the European Commission, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). They will brief the visitors about the needs of the Palestinians who receive humanitarian support, and about the daily challenges of access, faced by relief organisations.

Background:

Between 2000 and the start of 2011, the European Commission has provided around €600 million in humanitarian aid for the basic needs of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In 2010, the Commission's assistance supported the nutrition of 700,000 people, healthcare for 355,000 vulnerable Palestinians, clean water for 340,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank, protection, psychological care for children and adults, shelter and support for Palestinian refugees.

For more information:

Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva’s website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The Commission's humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Middle East:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm