Brussels, 14 June 2007. Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, has expressed his deep concern over the escalating violence between the Fatah and Hamas factions in the Gaza Strip. Referring to the "growing humanitarian tragedy in Gaza", Mr Michel reported that all 16 relief projects in the territory funded by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) had now been suspended because of a lack of security. This is the first time this has ever happened in the long history of EC humanitarian support to the Palestinian population in Gaza. He continued: "I fervently hope that the projects can resume very soon. This is a time when people desperately need protection and support. The warring parties must respect the principles of international humanitarian law, and do everything possible to facilitate safe access by relief agencies to the civilian population."
Commissioner Michel also condemned the death of two UNRWA relief workers caught in crossfire."The Palestinians have already suffered far too much. I strongly urge the warring parties to put away their guns and work together for the good of their people", he concluded.
Last year, the Commission provided €84 million for humanitarian operations in the Palestinian Territories and €60 million has been earmarked for this year so far.