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11 December 2012
11 December 2012
New UK medical aid and shelter for 85,000 affected by Gaza conflict
New UK funding will provide medical aid, temporary shelter and help with rebuilding damaged homes for around 85,000 people affected by the recent violence in Gaza, International Development Minister Alan Duncan announced today. Mr Duncan promised £1.25 million in new support as he became the first British minister to visit Gaza since the ceasefire entered into force on 21 November.
In the eight days of conflict before that ceasefire, 170 Palestinians (estimated) and six Israelis lost their lives. The UK aid announced today will be channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and among other vital activities helps the ICRC to:
• provide medical support to eight hospitals serving 1.6 million people;
• deliver eight trucks of medicines to treat 2,000 wounded and other emergency cases;
• provide shelter kits including blankets, tarpaulins and hygiene kits for up to 3,000 people and tents, jerry cans and cooking stoves for those made homeless;
• distribute material for repairs to nearly 5,000 damaged houses;
• facilitate the delivery of hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel to Gaza’s power station to ensure continuing electricity and to Shawa Hospital in the north of Gaza; and
• make emergency repairs to the Gaza water authority’s bomb-damaged infrastructure;
Speaking during his visit, Alan Duncan said:
“Ordinary people in Gaza and in Israel have had their lives turned upside down by the recent conflict. We were deeply saddened by the lives lost on both sides. While the violence continued, existing UK funding helped trusted partners such as UNRWA and the World Food Programme provide health and education services and distribute food in the face of incredibly challenging conditions. This new funding will help meet the most immediate needs of those injured, made homeless or otherwise affected by the conflict.
“We welcome the ongoing talks in Cairo. We urge all parties to take this important opportunity to resolve the fundamental problems of Gaza. This means tackling weapons smuggling and the illicit tunnel economy into Gaza. It also means lifting the Israeli restrictions on movement of goods and people which, as I have seen again on this visit, make the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza unsustainable.”
- Ends -
Notes to Editors
Gaza is one of the highest per capita recipients of aid funding in the world. Prior to this latest violence, 80 per cent of households in Gaza relied on assistance from humanitarian agencies and 44 per cent of the population were considered food insecure, with an additional 16 per cent vulnerable to food insecurity.
The health situation was particularly serious, with critical shortages of 40 per cent of essential drugs and 65 per cent of medical disposables. Fuel, water and sanitation have been serious problems for some time, and a significant number of people displaced by the earlier ‘Operation Cast Lead’ conflict are still waiting for housing to be made available.
In addition to the new funding for the ICRC, the UK has already made £20 million available to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to help provide essential services to the refugee population, including those in Gaza. The money will go towards health, education and relief services.
Throughout the recent conflict, UNRWA was able to keep most of its 21 health centres in Gaza open, and to distribute food. Although schools were closed, UNRWA continued to provide some lessons remotely using UNRWA TV. UK funding to UNRWA is part of a long term commitment to support UNRWA’s important work with Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the region.
UK support to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Urban Voucher Programme enables non-refugees in Gaza to purchase the basic food items, such as bread and milk, that they need to survive. Each voucher comprises nine food commodities which can be collected from any of 23 participating shops. The voucher scheme remained operational throughout the conflict, with WFP reporting that around 99 per cent of WFP’s voucher beneficiaries (30,000 people) redeemed their November benefits.
DFID - the Department for International Development
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