Brussels, 25 November 2005
Louis Michel visits Palestinian territories to assess humanitarian emergency
Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, will visit the Palestinian territories on Monday to assess the humanitarian situation at first hand. He will meet leading politicians and the Commission's humanitarian partners.
During his three-day visit Mr Michel will visit projects funded by ECHO, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department, and take stock of the situation with the various partners on the ground. He will also meet Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss the overall situation and humanitarian issues. His visit will take in Ramallah, Rafah, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
With the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories continuing to give serious cause for concern, the Commission is putting the final touches to an €8.3 million humanitarian aid grant for the Palestinians. Louis Michel will visit refugee camps and meet victims of the conflict.
The Palestinian territories have now been experiencing an unprecedented socio-economic and humanitarian crisis for five years. According to the World Bank, almost half of the West Bank’s inhabitants and nearly 70% of the Gaza Strip’s live below the poverty line. Over 1.4 million Palestinians suffer food insecurity, while almost 40% of people in the West Bank lack regular access to water. The future of the 2.5 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria remains uncertain.
In response to these needs, the EU has become the world’s leading donor to this region. The EU’s solidarity with the victims of this protracted crisis is shown by the scale of its aid. Since 2003 the EU has granted almost €500 million a year to help people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the second Intifada in September 2000 the European Commission has granted €191 million in humanitarian aid for the Palestinians. This aid has financed more than 400 humanitarian projects by the Commission’s operational partners: NGOs, UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent. The priorities have been food, health, water and sanitation, the creation of temporary jobs, protection, etc. This year alone the Commission has made two emergency grants for a total of €36.6 million.