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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
[Press release ignores problem] New UK medical aid and shelter for 85,000 affected by Gaza conflict

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

When a press release discussing damaged houses and civilian wounded in Gaza
cites "weapons smuggling" as one of the "fundamental problems of Gaza"
that's "close but no cigar".

The civilian houses are damaged and civilians are wounded in Gaza because
the terrorists launch their rockets from within civilian areas in the Gaza

This cynical exploitation of "human shields" is indeed the primary
"fundamental problem" of Gaza.]

Press release
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 GBP 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
- 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

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 GBP 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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