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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 March 2009








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Egypt

On 2 March, donors pledged US$4.48 billion to help the Palestinian economy and rebuild Gaza after Israel’s recent military offensive during which 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed, insisting their funds bypass the territory’s Hamas rulers. Gulf Arab states, the United States and the European Commission made significant pledges; Gulf Arab states pledged about US$1.65 billion between them, stating that their donations will go through a special mechanism to be launched in Riyadh. The United Nations and aid agencies said rebuilding Gaza will be problematic so long as border crossings with Gaza remained closed. It is unclear whether Israel will open Gaza’s border crossings to large quantities of supplies like cement and steel needed to rebuild, since Israel refuses the entry of materials it says could be also used by militants to build rockets. Egypt has currently closed its Rafah crossing into Gaza for normal traffic, providing only limited access for aid agencies. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told donors, “The situation at the border crossings is intolerable. Aid workers do not have access. Essential commodities cannot get in. Our first and indispensable goal, therefore, is open crossings. By the same token, however, it is therefore essential to ensure that illegal weapons do not enter Gaza”.

The Egyptian Red Crescent Society has organized a psychological support workshop for around a hundred volunteers mobilized in El-Arish and Rafah on the border with the Gaza Strip. Other Red Cross Red Crescent societies present in Egypt such as the Qatar Red Crescent Society, in coordination with the IFRC, have also provided training in psychological support to a team of volunteers, relief workers and nurses.

Iran

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The Second Conference of Islamic Health Ministers was held in Tehran from 1-3 March 2009. The conference discussed possible solutions and initiatives designed to address health problems within Islamic countries, as well as how to provide equal health care services to all Islamic countries, including medical and hygiene needs in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. As many as 20 health ministers and representatives from 57 Islamic countries attended the Conference, which was organized by the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), the Iranian Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

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Regional

The Arab League Summit took place in Doha on 29 March. The leaders, meeting under the 22-member Arab League, sought to bury differences highlighted by their responses to Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip in December last year. There were several notable absentees at the Summit, including Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir attended the Summit, which said it would not enforce the International Criminal Court’s arrest order issued on 4 March. ...

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