|Press release 370/2005 |
25 November, 2005
Finland will make a sizeable contribution to the EU Border Control Assistance Mission at Rafah Crossing Point to be launched on 25 November on the border between Gaza and Egypt. The EU operation includes 70 monitors, with Finland's contribution being five border control and police experts. The Finnish monitors will arrive at Rafah on 30 November. Additionally, Finland has pledged 100 000 euros as voluntary contribution to the operation.
The operation aims to monitor the activities of the Palestinian border authorities at the crossing point and to support the Palestinian efforts to improve their own border control abilities to correspond to international standards. The operation is part of the EU´s larger assistance programme to the peace process in the Middle East, promoting reconstruction in the Gaza region and stimulating economic growth. The inauguration of the Rafah crossing point is a major step in the process.
The EU has recently decided to continue assistance to the development of civilian police force in the Palestinian Territories and will launch the EUPOL COPPS police operation in early 2006 which will support the development of the Palestinian Authority´s own police force. Finland is prepared to send two experts to the police operation.
The EU is the biggest donor in the Palestinian Territories. Annually, the combined Union assistance amounts to approximately 500 million euros, half of which comes from the Commission budget and the rest is given as bilateral assistance by the member states. As far as support to the Palestinians is concerned, the key tasks for the EU include development of the institutions and the security sector, as well as strengthening of the rule of law. The EU also aims at strengthening the civil society through regional peace programmes, and at promoting human rights and implementing democracy.
The general objective of the Finnish development cooperation in the Palestinian Territories is to support the peace process in the Middle East. To date, Finland has provided approximately 33 million euros to the Palestinian Territories through bilateral cooperation; about four million euros of the total has been donated during the year 2005. In addition, Finland has supported the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, since the year 1952 by an annual contribution of approximately three million euros from the appropriations for humanitarian assistance.
Further information: Counsellor Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen, Unit of Civil Crisis Management, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5696